Luigi Bormioli works extensively with the Centro Studi Assaggiatori, a research unit with the most advanced and complete sensory assessment in Italy. Founded in 1990, each year the Centro Studi Assaggiatori carries out thousands of tests with consumers in order to assess the perceived quality of products and services. Currently it owns one of the largest archives in Italy which reflects the changes in tastes and trends.
Thanks to its many courses in sensory analysis, the Centro Studi Assaggiatori have provided basic knowledge to a large number of sensory experts and have trained hundreds of judges and panel leaders for companies and organizations. Furthermore, Centro Studi Assaggiatori is a publisher of L’Assaggio, the only Italian magazine dedicated to sensory analysis and of a series of books on this subject.
Sensory evaluation is a scientific discipline used to evoke, quantitate, analyze, and interpret reactions to the characteristics of wines as perceived by the senses of sight, smell, taste, and touch.
1. Sight - The expectationbased on appearanceoften psychologically sets up our taste buds. In wine, this sight prejudice leads us to expect that transparent and bright wines will be good-tasting, and wines that are cloudy or dull in color will not. Although this does not necessarily hold true.
2. Smell – This sense can sometimes even beat the eyes in the race for setting up tasting expectations. An aroma can carry beyond the line of sight, from one room to another for example. Of the five senses, smell is the most acute, approximately 1,000 times more sensitive than the sense of taste. As a result, what is termed flavor is influenced by roughly 75% smell (olfaction) and 25% taste (gustation) in healthy individuals.
3. Taste - Taste has historically been one of the least understood sensory mechanisms. We know it is sensed by nerve receptors called buds and that there are about 9,000 of them on the average tongue. Combinations of basic tastes, along with the accompanying various aromas, account for different flavors. Taste compounds are generally smaller molecules than those of odors and, unlike odors, must be water-soluble (hydrophilic) to cause sensation.
4. Touch - The sense of touch figures in the overall flavor impression by conveying temperature, texture and pressure, the feelingdifferences that exist between cold iced tea and hot coffee, between plain fruit punch and carbonated soda, between filtered and unfiltered apple juice, between smooth pudding and crunchy cookies, or between the burn of jalapeño or the cool of menthol. These sensations of touch, irritation, or thermal differences are called chemesthesis and may be experienced in the eyes, mouth, nose, or throat. Much of the touch information of flavor is conveyed to the brain through the trigeminal nerve.
Evaluating the physiological factors and chemical properties helps devise methodology to get the most from tasting wine. The taster can control serving parameters to intensify the experience and consider and maintain an awareness of elements which are beyond control but nonetheless affect the tasting occasion.