The sensory preferences for white wines of three consumer groups selected for their differences in wine consumption habits and attitudes toward wines were investigated. A stepwise screening of the wines was used to ensure an objective selection based solely on perceived sensory characteristics while representing the commercial market. Sensory profiles of the selected wines were then determined by trained sensory descriptive panelists (n = 10). Consumers (n = 120) were recruited, assigned to one of three a priori groups, and evaluated 12 white wines. Internal preference mapping was conducted to explain consumer preference data with wine sensory descriptions and consumer characteristics. Results showed that sensory preferences were not significantly different among a priori consumer groups. Segmentation of individual liking scores revealed two distinct preference segments, with the largest one accounting for 77%. The majority of consumers preferred sweeter and fruitier wines as opposed to oaky and burning wines, independently of their a priori assigned group. Only a few demographics and attitudinal characteristics distinguished the two preference segments; however, they were not related to the initial a priori grouping. The primary dimension explaining consumer preferences for white wines confirmed previous research findings on other wine styles and obtained from various groups of consumers, suggesting that the main preference dimension common to many wine styles was driven by sweet and fruity sensory characteristics as opposed to dry, burning, and oaky attributes.
- ©2012 by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture