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Size of sip ‘affects wine’s taste’

The amount of wine that drinkers take each time they sip has a strong influence on its taste, with different size gulps better suited to different varieties, scientists have found.

Small sips help to release fruity and floral notes, while bigger gulps are best paired with honey, berry and grapefruit flavours (Photo: Wiki)

The impact of sip sizes is down to the amount of “volatiles” – aromatic chemicals – that are released when wine interacts with saliva in the mouth, researchers discovered.

The findings add to the commonly held notion that smell plays a significant role in the tasting process. While smell is still considered the most vital component in taste formation, the part that saliva plays has been underestimated until now.

Scientists also claim this research helps to explain why the smell of a glass of wine can often differ greatly from its taste.

The research was carried out by scientists from the University of Naples using the local Falanghina white wine variety in simulated mouth conditions.

“The release of some volatile markers, involved in the fruity and oxidative characters of wine, was mainly affected by the sip volume after wine–saliva interaction,” the study said.

In other words, the floral and baked apple flavours expected by the likes of Chardonnay, Semillon, and Sauvignon Blanc are easier released in bigger sips.

Similarly, the petrol-like aroma of Riesling and Gewürztraminer can be better detected on the palate with larger gulps. Flavours of berries, cherries, grapefruit and honey are also easier to taste with big sips, it found.

Industry figures claim the study, published in the science journal Food Research International, could have a lasting impact on professional wine tastings.

Marcia Waters, of the Institute of Masters of Wine, told The Sunday Telegraph: “This work may well have implications on how wine tasting can be conducted.

“I think many tasters have just found a style of tasting that suits them without really considering the particular compounds they are trying to detect.”

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