Exploring the sensory characteristics of Virginia ciders through descriptive analysis and external preference mapping


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Taylor & Francis


The cider industry has experienced recent growth within the USA and Virginia in particular. However, the sensory characteristics and drivers of consumer acceptance of ciders are largely uncharacterized. Therefore, this work describes the sensory profiles of commercial Virginia ciders and links these to consumer acceptance. In study 1, a descriptive analysis (DA) of 24 representative ciders from 16 producers in Virginia was conducted: 6 panelists defined 48 descriptive terms for ciders. In study 2, a consumer acceptance study was conducted on 8 ciders from the DA with 67 subjects. For the DA study, 22 descriptors were found to be significant, and multivariate analyses identified 6 groups. In the consumer study, external preference mapping was conducted to identify 3 clusters of consumers with distinctive patterns of sensor preference. The largest cluster favored sweet ciders without off-flavors; a second, smaller cluster favored sweetness even in the presence of off-flavors; and the smallest cluster disliked sweetness in ciders and was intolerant of off-flavors. We describe these groups’ demographic and consumption profiles. All ciders’ basic chemistry was within previously reported ranges, and expected relationships between flavor and chemistry were observed. We were able to establish sensory profiles for Virginia ciders, and tentatively link sensory profiles and consumer acceptance. Overall, this work adds to a small-but-growing body of knowledge about ciders’ sensory properties. Producers can use the sensory profiles in comparison to other regions’ ciders to establish regional sensory profiles, and the consumer preference map to understand how to capitalize on their ciders’ distinct profiles.



Cider, Descriptive analysis, Sensory evaluation, Consumer acceptance, Preference mapping