When wine professionals taste wines under standardized conditions in a laboratory booth, they reach an objective conclusion. But would consumers always be of the same opinion? Or is it rather the situation in which the wine is consumed that mostly influences our opinion?
"I believe the situation, environment and our mood mainly affect our sensory assessment! We all have experienced that wine, which is consumed on holiday, suddenly tastes different at home. Or the glass of wine that you enjoyed so much in the cozy, candlelight atmosphere of a wine tasting suddenly loses its appeal at home," says Prof. Dr. Rainer Jung from the Department of Enology, who runs the WITALITY project – a collaborative research project bringing together the scientific community and industry experts – together with his colleague Doris Häge and the doctorate student Meike Strobach.
The aim of the project is to identify how the perception of wine varies in different contexts and which specific tasting environments, e.g. wine estate, restaurant, bar or holiday, support an ideal assessment of the wine. The project partner – the University of Applied Science Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, Institute of Visual Computing – will develop the required VR software, while the experienced quality assessment panel at Geisenheim's Department of Enology will carry out the sensory evaluation.
In a first step, participant's reaction to different sensory stimuli such as taste, odor or trigeminal perception will be studied in different test conditions. In a second step, the evaluation of wines or individual sensory characteristics such as sweetness, acidity and alcohol will also be examined in different test conditions.
As industry partners, the DLG Test Service GmbH and Pieroth Wein AG will help extend the database of the assessments and demonstrate how the results can be used for industry purposes.
After the end of the project in 2023, the prototype software is meant to be provided to companies working in the wine industry and in the field of sensory assessment and market research. Ideally, the use of "virtual realities in the sensory assessment of wines" will result in interesting applications for wine estates and other industry players – WITALITY is Hochschule Geisenheim University's approach to researching this topic.