“Neuroscience and wine quality: bionetric analysis of sensory perceptions during two red wine taste tests” 

Dott. Bariselli Andrea – Thimus
Dott. Pipperi Luca – Thimus
Centro Studi Assaggiatori


What is an experience? Can we define it? Can we analyze from a scientific point of view its emotional correlates? One of the most critical issues of sensory analysis processes deals with the accuracy of the perceptions of wine judges. The final evaluation of a wine, indeed, is made after a million thoughts, feelings, ideas, perceptions elaborated by judges while tasting a glass of wine. All these variables are absolutely subjective and difficult to control, making the sensory analysis such a hard process to standardize and to replicate on a scientific base. The main problem with this method is that the final answer, given by the judge after all that reasoning, most of the times does not match with the original perception of the wine he actually experienced. One of the most effective and reliable methodologies that can be used to overcome this problem comes from neuroscience. By means of an EEG, it is possible to monitor judges’ brain activity in real time during wine taste tests, and precisely analyze the trend of cognitive, emotional and perceptual processes going on in the brain.


We selected 4 wines for this experiment. A 2008 Soldera Sangiovese 100%, a superwine (Merlot, Sangiovese and Shiraz), a Nero d’Avola and a Bardolino from 2013. These 4 kinds of wine were presented to a group of 9 professional judges (7 man, 2 women, mean age 37 years), which underwent a taste test according the BST advanced red wines method. The taste test consisted of 3 different phases: visual, olfactory, and tactile/gustatory/retro-olfactory (GTR). For each of these phases we collected a 15 seconds EEG brain trace, for every single judge. We then replicated the same experiment after a month using the original bottles opened for the first test. For this purpose, we picked up 9 judges different from the original ones (7 men, 2 women, mean age 46 years). The EEG instrument we selected for this experiment was a 14 channel Emotiv Epoc wireless headset. The obtained data was filtered and subdivided per analyzed sense (corresponding to the visual, olfactory, and tactile/gustatory/retro-olfactory phases), brainwave (Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta), cerebral lobe (frontal, temporal, parietal, occipital), and type of wine. A data analysis with rmANOVA (repeated measures analysis of variance) has then been conducted.


First of all, the results of this experiment have shown that the visual component of a quality wine is not that important as people usually tend to think. The olfactory and GTR (gustatory/tactile/retro-olfactory) components, indeed, appear to be much more effective in influencing the judges’ appreciation of the overall tasting experience. This represents a clear advice to all the wine producers who recently adopted the habit to modify great wines with enhancing vines, which can only grant color and visual improvements, but definitely not a better taste or a better overall wine quality. Moreover, when comparing the different types of wine selected, the data clearly shows that the wine that was more able to activate all the different regions and brain waves to the maximum was the Sangiovese Soldera, not only referring to Alpha waves, but also referring to Theta ones, typical of deep meditating end ecstatic states. These findings can be interpreted as an inner ability of this great wine, when compared to the others, to induce sensations of bliss and relaxation so much intense and pervasive that can be associated to ecstatic conditions.


Experimental data have confirmed out initial hypothesis. First of all, the finding that inner quality wines activate positive neural correlates much more than low quality wines confirms that wine quality is a measurable and objective phenomenon. Hence, producing a great quality wine always pays off, both in terms of prestige.


“Early defoliation: effects on alcoholic fermentation and wine characteristics from Sangiovese grapes grown in the Brunello di Montalcino area”


Diletta Berta1 e Yuri Romboli2
 1Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali e Alimentari, Università degli Studi di Torino
2Dipartimento di Gestione dei Sistemi Agrari, Alimentari e Forestali, Sez. di Microbiologia, Università degli Studi di Firenze


Early defoliation is a canopy management practice that in the last years has gained increasing attention for its effects on crop production and for the quality improvement of grapes. Several studies considered the effect of such technique on quality related parameters in wines, unfortunately with contrasting results.

Hence, the aim of this work was to evaluate the effects of early defoliation on Sangiovese wines from grapes grown in the Brunello di Montalcino production area in a specific estate during the vintage 2015. After a chemical characterization of Sangiovese musts, during the alcoholic fermentation and racking, chemical, phenolic and color parameters were evaluated.

The Sangiovese wines produced from grapes of vines subject to early defoliation (DEF) were characterized by higher ethanol content because of higher sugar concentration of relative musts respected to their controls (NDEF). No significant differences were found on total acidity and pH. DEF wines had higher color intensity and tonality values. Finally, total phenols content was higher in DEF wines due to higher values of non anthocyanin phenols contents.

The results reported in this work highlight the reliability of the early defoliation on the improvement of phenolic contents and color of Sangiovese wines. This canopy management practice improved the accumulation of non anthocyanin phenolic compounds in the wines, thus favoring pigments stabilization and directly contributing to the increase of color intensity and hue. This technique on Sangiovese vines should be studied steadily to assert the effects on the quality of the wine.


“Glutatione: evolution of a natural antioxidant during alcoholic fermentation of Sangiovese grapes”


Martina Cerretelli
Dipartimento di Gestione dei Sistemi Agrari, Alimentari e Forestali, sezione di Microbiologia, Università degli Studi di Firenze
FoodMicroTeam, Spin-off Accademico dell’Università di Firenze


The importance of glutathione in musts and wines is related to its ability to control oxidative damage and to limit browning by reducing o-quinones produced by polyphenol oxidase activity on hydroxycinnamic acids. In this study, the evolution of the glutathione content during fermentation of three commercial winemaking processes of Sangiovese grapes (vintage 2015), carried out in a winery, in Val d’Orcia (Tuscany), was monitored. The results show the presence of detectable glutathione concentration, both in the reduced and in the oxidized form, in freshly pressed musts, deriving from grapes. The evolution of the glutathione content during the alcoholic fermentation is related to the Saccharomyces cerevisiaepopulations development: the reduced glutathione concentration decreases in correspondence of yeast exponential growth phase, due to the consumption of reduced glutathione by yeast cells in the active growth phase. Successively glutathione is released into the environment-wine in correspondence to cell autolysis at the end of alcoholic fermentation. This study point out that the final glutathione concentration in wine depends on the amount of glutathione released by yeast cells rather than that derived from grapes.


“The Sangiovese origin: from Southern Italy to Montalcino and over…”


Marica Gasparro
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA) – Unità di ricerca per l’uva da tavola e la vitivinicoltura in ambiente mediterraneo, Turi (BA), Italy


The aim of this paper was to highlight the pedigree of Sangiovese, the most important and widespread Italian winegrape, through ampelographic and molecular characterization. We screened our grapevine collection to asses kinships and, surprisingly, we found two previously unreported candidate parents for Sangiovese. The first putative parent is Ciliegiolo, a well know variety already addressed as relative of Sangiovese; the second putative parent is Negrodolce, an old local variety we recovered and was considered lost during the last century.

Using molecular characterization, supported by the ampelographic one, we showed also that Gaglioppo di Cir¨°, Mantonicone and Nerello Mascalese, three varieties recovered in the southern regions of Italy, such as Calabria and Sicily, originated by the cross between Sangiovese and Mantonico di Bianco, a Calabria autochthonous vine.

This paper demonstrates the importance of different approaches such as ampelography, historical researches and molecular fingerprinting to reveal direct parent-child relationship. We provide so a completely new strong evidence for a SouthernItalian origin of Sangiovese, enriching the historical and cultural content of this variety such as to make it even more a vine of national importance.


“Estimation of the main canopy features of two Tuscany vineyards using high resolution images”


Leolini L.1, Brilli L.1, Di Gennaro, S.F.2
 1 University of Florence, DiSPAA, Florence, Italy
2 IBIMET-CNR,  Florence, Italy


Tuscany represents one of the most important worldwide wine-making region for the production of high quality wines. The improvement of the traditional management practices may help farmers to obtain useful information about canopy vigor and the structure of the vineyard, thus enhancing the grape production and improve the final taste of the wine. In this context, precision agriculture systems based on new technologies (i.e. laser scanner systems, drones, etc.) may have a key role.

In this study, high-resolution images obtained by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) were used to create the 3D model of the two vineyards in Tuscany. The reconstruction of the 3D model of the two sites allowed to extract information about the main features influencing the structure of vineyards (i.e. canopy height and volume). Results showed the goodness of this methodology for the estimation of the height and volume of the canopy.

The use of very high-resolution images by mean of low cost systems resulted to be able to provide useful information about canopy vigor and the structure of the vineyard. This aspect could help the farmers through: i) easier management of the most common vineyard practices; ii) the possibility to evaluate the main biomass features (i.e. grape yield and quality, intercepted radiation, etc.).


“Brunello of Montalcino in the wine investment view”


Dott. Simone Maifredi Ida Bellini
Centro Studi Assaggiatori Soc. Coop.
Università degli Studi di Brescia


During this period of negative circumstance, the number of people looking for alternative investments that offer a good profitability with the smallest risk, is increasing. Since the end of the last century there is the idea that wine is not just a consumption product capable of donating sensorial feelings but a real form of investment, a speculative opportunity which allows people to expand their incomes.

One of the main motivation of wine investments is about the will for investors to obtain high return in relatively short time in comparison with other investment actions and bonds.

For being consider a good investment a wine  needs to have determinate characteristics:

–        being famous for its unique/rare sensorial features,

–        being product in limited edition,

–        having the possibility of being preserve in a cellar for a very long time.

The fame of a wine is a crucial factor. From the origin region to the specific producer passing throw denomination, they are all variables which make a wine famous or not. Often wines are famous because they have unique sensorial characteristic like a particular aroma which allows it  to differentiate from the other.

Another important characteristic is the longevity. Often wine investments aren’t short term profit, so time conserving capability is fondamental. Not all wines can be preserve for 10/15/20 years: in fact only a few of them can be conserve for a lot of years without losing their particular aromas.

A wine that has those mentioned characteristics if acquired, correctly conserved and resold, allows to obtain great profit, definitely superior to those purely monetary, comparable to those made with gold or petroleum, and even superior to other commodities or main equity indices as FTSE 100 or S&P 500.

Therefore investment wine market is relatively new and with great growth margins, proved by the enormous progressions made in this sector in the last twenty years, in which new forms of investments succeed one another, like future, specialized investments funds and auctions of fine rare wines.

It’s important not to disregard the related risks to this kind of investment. Lack of regulated market complicates significantly things. One of investors risk is to acquire bottles and not  to resell them. That’s why is advisable to aim to qualified and already operating people in the sector.

Even if in terms of return wine investments may seem alluring, it’s not the same speaking of its volatility. Risk/return ratio shows a fall of wine compared to other forms of collection investments with inferior return but lower volatility (Dimson et al., 2013). So wine investment may be risky: a great or terrible deal can be done, even if, as Gianni Agnelli claimed, “Making wine is a great job because if it isn’t sold, it can at least always be drunk”.


“Wine geographic traceability by quantification of lanthanides atoms and operational food authentication”


Institute of Biometeorology – National Research Council, Firenze, Italy


The matter of authenticity of food products is assuming an increasing importance, considering the substantial economic losses resulting from fraud concerning the labeling, adulteration and origin of products. The scientific community, with different approaches, has devoted a wide effort to hinder the adulterations of a number of agro-products (wine, rise, oil, wheat, etc.).  Several investigation techniques are currently used to characterize food matrices from physical, chemical and biological point of view using different techniques. Some of these are based on the detection and quantification of Rare Earths (REEs, Lanthanides family) in the bio-matrix and on the analysis of the correlation between amounts found in food matrices and in soils of origin. The elements of the lanthanides family are unevenly distributed in ultra-trace (ng/L) on earth and could act as efficient markers of the origin of a material. Several studies have been made to correlate food products with their soil of origin, using REEs markers. A further step in this direction is the detection of crystalline structures of REEs as a discriminant part of spectrum-fingerprint, a method that promises to improve the simple quantification of lanthanides elements. In the present work, using the INES difractometer operational at RAL – ISIS (Oxford, UK),   we analyzed the spectra of three must-grapes and their corresponding soils coming from three different vineyard: two neighbors vineyards “Case Basse” and “Intistieti”  (Montalcino, Siena,  Italy) and a vineyard from a different location Montepaldi (San Casciano Val di Pesa, Florence, Italy); the preparation protocol consisted in to freeze-dry both must-grape and soil samples to reduce the amorphous signal due to the presence of water. By neutron diffraction technique we obtained the diffraction spectra of soil and must-grape samples From the spectra treatment, specific crystal structures were identified in each soil/must-grape pair. In the samples relative to the Case Basse vineyard the crystal structure of the Deveroite-Ce mineral containing the cerium (Ce) lanthanide was detected in both the soil and the must-grape; in the Institieti vineyard, close to Case Basse, Perrierite-Ce and Gadolinite-Y minerals were found, containing lanthanides species such as Yttrium (Y), Cerium (Ce), Neodymium (Nd), and Lanthanum (La); while, in the soil and must-grape of Montepaldi vineyard the Monazite- (La) mineral, containing lanthanum atoms, was detected. These minerals univocally characterize the samples and enable to relate the must-grape to its geographical area of production. This work is focused on the characterization of wine product by using conventional laboratory instruments. Taking care this operational aspect, the X-Ray fluorescence measurements are performed in CNR-Laboratory. In particular, lanthanide atoms are detected for all samples, such as Lanthanum and Neodymium, in agreement with neutron diffraction results. Other analytical conventional methods will be assessed in an ensemble-like analysis evaluating their capability to reproduce the information derived by neutron diffraction thus enabling their combined use for operational food authentication. This study opens new perspectives in the domain of wine geographic traceability potentially enabling a univocal profiling of wine’s place of origin.


“Early defoliation: effect on microbial ecology, yield and chemical characteristics of Sangiovese grapes grown in the Brunello di Montalcino production area”


Yuri Romboli1 e Diletta Berta2
 1Dipartimento di Gestione dei Sistemi Agrari, Alimentari e Forestali, Sez. di Microbiologia, Università degli Studi di Firenze
2Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali e Alimentari, Università degli Studi di Torino


The present work was aimed to evaluate of the effect of early defoliation on microbiological, yield and chemical characteristics of Sangiovese grapes grown in the Brunello di Montalcino area of production in a specific estate during the vintage 2015. Indeed, 5 to 7 basal leaves were removed from vine at the beginning of bloom (5-10% opened flowers). The first part of the work was focused on the climatic characterization of 2015 , a vintage warmer and drier compared to the medium values recorded in the period 2007-2014. From bunch closure to veraison, yeast populations were affected by early defoliation with higher counts in grapes from early defoliated vines (DEF). However, no significant differences were recorded at harvest, when the yeast populations were constituted by Kloeckera and Candida genus at comparable counts (104 cell/g) in both early defoliated vines (DEF) and their respective controls (NDEF). The specific microclimatic conditions in NDEF vines seemed to favor the colonization of grapes by Aureobasidium spp. before the ripening period. Nevertheless, no differences in counts were detected at harvest in DEF and NDEF grapes (104 cell/g). DEF grapes were less susceptible to Botrytis cinerea with 70,7% less visible rot incidence than NDEF. Berry size was decreased in DEF grapes, while skin to berry ratio was increased respect NDEF grapes. Finally, DEF grapes showed a higher concentration in sugars, extractable anthocyanins and total phenols richness, whereas total acidity, pH and malic acid were not significantly different compared to NDEF grapes.


“The Montalcino’s Sangiovese 100% wine evaluated with the index OB- The institution of the OB index to determine and certify the evolution of sensory wines within bottles open for almost a month”


Veronica Volpi
Soc. Coop. Centro Studi Assaggiatori


The Montalcino’s Sangiovese 100% wine evaluated

The sensory analysis remains to be the only instrument able to interpret what they perceive consumers and what they feel in taste a good glass of wine.

In the course of the last three years, we have used this important tool to interpret how it evolves the wine within bottles opened by several hours, what changes in its profile of aromas and scents in time and especially evolves as the perceived by the users.

We started in 2013 by analyzing the sensory profile of different vintages of wines “important” (Barolo and Sangiovese Igt Toscana 2006) and of wines “young” to see what was changed after several hours of opening the bottle (24, 96 and 144 hours).

In 2014 we have looked at the search by proposing that the panel of sensory analysis three vintages of 100% Sangiovese di Toscana Igt and 31 samples of red wine most present on the market in Italy in bottles just decapped and after 100 hours of opening; the profiles of median formed by the two test, through the statistical software BSS, were then compared between them to create an outline of the differences encountered, from which it emerged that the sensory profiles of the samples of 100% Sangiovese mutate over time thus increasing their aromatic richness, the olfactory intensity and saturation (bitter and acidity tend to slightly decrease), noting, then, that a red wine of quality not only is not afraid of the time and the oxygen, but it earn in sensoriality.

Choosing the right wine, therefore, also the caterers can offer wine by the glass in all tranquillity without fear of not being able to use completely and have the possibility insert into its paper also renowned wines and important even more certain of their trend sensory.

Then, can you to find a practical application and real of this giving the producers a certificate of the sealing of sensory his wine after the opening, valorising in this way the companies who work in quality, offering the restaurateurs a useful work tool and at the same time protect consumers?

This is the question that we have given response in the present research and to develop an index of overall development of the wine, called OB ( Odello-Braceschi ) able to assess the evolution at the level aromatic and structural wines based on the increase or decrease of the characters of honor and the negative character, and bringing then to the exponent the hours heads.

Starting from the differences in perception between the products tasted at 0 hours from the opening and after several hours of opening, in fact, it is difficult to find statistics that give significant results, however, reasoning about the differences in function of the characteristics of the wines, you can estimate the indexes that allow to assess the evolution of the wine after the opening by taking into account changes in aromatic and structural.

In the present experiment we took into consideration 4 types of wine,100% Sangiovese Igt Toscana 2008, Bardolino Novello, Nero d’Avola and Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot, of which we analyzed the sensory behavior at the time of the opening and then at 432 and 672 hours. The data obtained by the different panel have been analyzed and processed statistically in order to obtain their index of aromatic evolution, the index of structural evolution and the index of evolution OB able to give a certification mathematics on the evolution of the wine in the bottle.

The index of global evolution OB is derived from the index of positive evolution of the wine (i.e. , the sum of the indicators and aromatic positive structural), and the negative evolution of this (the sum of the indicators aromatic and negative structural); in the complex and then you can define how the algorithm between the index of aromatic evolution and the index of structural evolution; in a few words, takes into account the deviation of the various descriptors then determining the evolution from the standpoint of aroma and the structure.

The more the final index is high and so much more than the wine presents positive developments both of aromas, both of the structure. The evidence is allowed to a graphical representation can explain the evolution of the product: in the diagram to bubbles used more the ball is positioned to the right and more is located at the top of the chart, the greater the positive evolution aromatic, more the bubble and more, and the positive evolution of wine.

The implementation of the index of the wines has determined that all of the bottles have undergone a global evolution positive in the course of 672 hours, reaching sizes of the spheres clearly superior to 432 hours and positioning itself in positive quadrant in the upper right.

In this specific case, the 100% Sangiovese Igt Toscana 2008 was the only champion who has registered a global evolution positive constant in time: this testifies to the fact that it is a wine with a constant evolution that with time its flavoring properties and structural improve in conservation within its bottles smezzate.

This index is therefore a clear proof and mathematics of the evolution of the wine in the bottle open, which is therefore, able to certify the quality and secure it to the consumer.

This instrument is therefore extremely useful to restaurateurs and store owners that in this way they know with certainty how will you evolve the wine to the inside of the bottles and for how long can store and ensure quality.

They, therefore, they are not more in concern over having to consume quickly opened bottle, but even will have an incentive to the opening of these, aware of the fact that certain types of wine evolve in a positive manner with the flow of time.