Influence of visual masking technique on the assessment of 2 red wines by trained and consumer assessors

J Food Sci. 2008 Aug;73(6):S279-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2008.00824.x.


During sensory evaluation assessments, visual masking techniques are frequently employed to disguise color differences between samples and minimize perceptual bias. Particularly in wine, the impact of these masking techniques on panelist evaluations has not been well studied. The objective of this study was to study the influence of visual masking techniques on the aroma and flavor assessment of 2 red wines and observe the impact of these techniques on trained and consumer sensory panels. Specific masking techniques included (1) blue wine glass/white illumination; (2) clear glass/red illumination; and (3) clear glass/white illumination. Ten panelists were trained to recognize 7 aroma and flavor attributes, while consumer panelists (n=80) evaluated attributes and liking. For the trained panel, the visual masking technique affected only perceived spicy flavor of Syrah (P < or = 0.05), with the clear glass/red illumination resulting in more intense spicy flavor compared to the other 2 conditions. Principal components analysis showed that for the 2 red wines evaluated by the trained panel, red illumination resulted in higher spicy attributes and perceived astringency while wines served in blue wine glasses were higher in perceived astringency. For the consumer panel, red illumination resulted in wines higher in perceived astringency and blue wine glasses resulted in wines higher in perceived flavor liking. These results indicated that the visual masking techniques may influence both trained and consumer panel evaluation of aroma and flavor attributes of red wine. However, beyond red wine, this study makes the larger point that the choice of masking technique does impact sensory evaluations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cooking and Eating Utensils
  • Female
  • Glass
  • Humans
  • Lighting
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odorants / analysis*
  • Perception*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Wine / analysis*