Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Italy v. America: The Difference in Taste of Wine

Ever since my first trip to Italy, wine has slowly become one of my passions. No, Italy did not make me an alcoholic. Learning about the different wines from each region is very interesting to me. They define the regions just as the regional cuisine does. With that aside though, I have noticed a considerable difference in the taste of Italian wine imported here, as opposed to what it tastes like there. To my surprise, several individuals conducted an experiment of the effects of shipping conditions on wines. Eleven trained panelists then taste tested the end results. Post below is the actual article from the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture:

Effect of Simulated Shipping Conditions on Sensory Attributes and Volatile Composition of Commercial White and Red Wines

Anthony L. Robinson1, Martha Mueller2, Hildegarde Heymann2,*, Susan E. Ebeler2, Paul K. Boss3, Peter S. Solomon4 and Robert D. Trengove1 1 Separation Science Laboratory, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia; 2 Department of Viticulture and Enology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616; 3 CSIRO Plant Industry & Food Futures Flagship, PO Box 350, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia; and 4 Plant Cell Biology, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.
Acknowledgments: This research project was conducted while A.L. Robinson was an Australian-American Fulbright Scholar and was a collaboration between the University of California, Davis and Murdoch University, Australia.
M. Mueller acknowledges the following: Harry Baccigaluppi Scholarship, Louis R. Gomberg, Adolf L. and Richie C. Heck Research Fellowship, Horace O. Lanza Scholarship, and the Brad Webb Memorial Scholarship. This research was partially funded by Australia’s grapegrowers and winemakers through their investment body the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation with matching funding from the Australian Federal Government.
* Corresponding author (email:; tel: 530 754 4816 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              530 754 4816      end_of_the_skype_highlighting; fax: 530 752 0382)

A major concern when shipping wine is whether the condition in which it is received at its destination is the same as when it left the winery. This study explored the effects of shipping conditions on six varietal wines. Four white wines and four red wines were exposed to four different storage conditions to create 32 treatments. Riesling, Gew├╝rztraminer, Sauvignon blanc, and Chardonnay wines were from one producer and of the same vintage. One Merlot and three Cabernet Sauvignon wines were from different labels by the same producer. Storage conditions included 20°C, 40°C, 20/40°C (reflecting diurnal cycle in temperatures), and a sample that traveled in the trunk of a car for three weeks. The 32 wines were evaluated using sensory descriptive analysis. Trained panelists, 11 for white wine and 13 for red wine, rated the wines on 14 and 23 attributes, respectively. Volatiles were analyzed using a HS-SPME-GC-MS analysis. Both sensory and analytical results showed significant differences among the wines stored at the higher temperatures. Differences were noted for a number of compounds, including higher concentrations of vitispirane 1 and 2, TDN, and p-cymene and reductions in several esters and acetates, which are characteristic of aged wines. This is the first study that has assessed sensory changes in wines under conditions that would potentially be experienced by wine in transit.

Key words:
wine aroma, sensory descriptive analysis, HS-SPME, GC-MS, storage temperature, PLS

In conclusion, Italian wines DO taste better in Italy as opposed to here, in my opinion. To me, some wines have tasted watered down, and even more acidic than normal. The same Chianti wine the I drank in Italy was full and tasty, but here it was very watery, and the glass could not even be finished. Well, the experiment explains why. This is not to say that this has always happened, but on several occasions, it was noticeable.

Have you noticed a difference in taste of your wine?


  1. I think there is a difference too but I think it is mostly that the atmosphere in Italy is just so much nicer that everything tastes better!

  2. Laura,

    Perhaps the atmosphere does have a little bit to do with it. Everyone looks at me weird when I proclaim that it tastes better in Italy. Guess they would only understand if they've sat at a cafe' sipping wine... Missing Italy right now just thinking about it! :)