Tuesday, July 26, 2011

63% of those under 35 and 64% of those with at least a bachelor’s degree prefer organic

Majority of consumers would choose organic

Taste, price and packaging

Food Magazine


By Rita Mu 26 July 2011
The reasons why a customer might choose one bottle of wine over another are many and various. Whether it’s a recommendation, the knowledge of a good grape, cost or merely just an appealing label, winemakers need to understand the science of marketing.
Senior Research Associate Simone Mueller at the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, says there is a growing demand for more research into consumers’ choices on wine and the ability of this information to predict market success.
“Historically the wine industry only looked at growing grapes and making good wine. Similar investment is required for the next step - matching expectations by consumers and distributing and selling the wine,” Mueller says.
“There are now tools and methods that can help the wine business to test their wines and wine packaging, to optimise it before aiming for a shelf listing.”
Mueller and colleagues at the Geisenheim Research Centre in Germany, analysed the influence of sensory and extrinsic wine attributes on likeability and purchase intent for 521 regular wine consumers. The first stage of the study required participants to indicate their liking of a wine in a blind tasting. The same wine was then presented in three bottles with different packaging designs and brand and origin labels. The participants indicated their liking of each wine based on the extrinsic attributes, before tasting the wine and indicating their purchase intent and liking again. In the latter stage, the participants were unaware they had tasted the same wine repeatedly.
The results of the study are surprising.
While both taste and extrinsic attributes influenced a consumer’s liking for a bottle of wine, packaging and brand were the biggest influences.
“Some French studies we cite go as far as to say that for wine and especially sparkling wine, 70 per cent of liking can be attributed to the expectation created by packaging and labelling information,” Mueller says.
While the study shows extrinsic attributes such as packaging can play a more significant role in determining consumers’ liking of wine than taste, Mueller says the best advice for food and beverage producers is to ensure taste and packaging are equally as good.
“When successful commercial wines are used, the effect of packaging and labelling is larger than in the case of wines with potential faults,” she says. “[In the latter case], the sensory undesirable characteristics are stronger and can often less easily be compensated by packaging and labelling.
“When explaining our work to practitioners, we mainly say that a 50:50 importance is a good approximation of the relative importance [of taste and extrinsic attributes].”

A nice price

In another study, Mueller and colleagues at the Australian Wine Research Institute found the price of wine to have a significant influence on consumers’ repurchase intent. In the first stage of the study, participants chose one of 21 Australian vintage Shiraz wines based on the extrinsic attributes of each wine. This included packaging, price and brand. Participants then tasted the wine while aware of its retail price, before deciding whether or not they would repurchase the wine.
Mueller and colleagues found that a combination of extrinsic attributes, taste and price, positively influenced purchase intent. Also, the more often a wine was chosen in the first stage of the study, the more likely participants were to repurchase the wine after tasting it.
According to Mueller, the colour of packaging can say a lot about the value of a wine. Plain colours such as black, grey and cream have been associated with higher valued wines in the past, whilst more colourful packaging have been associated with wines of lower value.

The heart of fine wine

Despite the importance of reasonable prices and attractive packaging, no wine is good wine if it doesn’t taste good, says winemaker Scott Hazeldine who has been in the business for the past ten years (the latter two with Schild Estate in the Barossa Valley).
According to Hazeldine, the key to making good wine begins in the vineyard.
“There’s an old adage, that good wine is made in the vineyard – and I think that probably rings true,” he says. “In terms of the results of the wine that goes into bottles, a lot of it is determined on what’s done in the vineyard and the quality of the grapes.”
Hazeldine knows what he’s talking about: after all, he helped make Schild Estate’s 2008 Barossa Shiraz an international success last year after US magazine, Wine Spectator, labelled the wine as the seventh best in the world.
“If you’ve got good grapes coming in the door; half the work is already done,” Hazeldine says. However, taste is only the first hurdle for a wine business, says Hazeldine. The commercial considerations are becoming more and more important.
“Taste is first and foremost in what we’re trying to achieve, however, that’s only one small component; packaging and price are equally as important,” he says.
“There’s a lot of good wine out there that doesn’t sell because it’s at the wrong price or the packaging is bad.”

Top factors that influence consumers’ liking of wine:

1. Packaging (46%)
2. Brand (27%)
3. Sensory attributes/taste
4. Grape variety
5. Wine region

Top factors that influence consumers’ purchase intent: 

1. Informed liking (a combination of sensory and extrinsic attributes) (77%)
2. Price (21%)
Note: the influence of packaging, wine region, sensory attributes/taste, grape variety and brand were less than 1% each.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Life is based on fermentation

Palate Press The Online Wine Magazine

Fermentation, Civilization: How History and Human Thirst Go Hand in Hand

July 25, 2011 by Emily Towe  
Filed under FCGFeatured Stories
“There is an alcoholic haze at the center of our galaxy.”
No, that sentence isn’t an example of fuzzy-headed navel-gazing after a night of over-imbibing. It is an excerpt from Dr. Patrick E. McGovern’s 2009 book “Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages,” and it refers to the huge clouds of methanol, ethanol and vinyl ethanol that exist in space—one of which stretches near the center of the Milky Way. It is hypothesized that this vinyl ethanol, contained in dust particles and frozen into comets, may have introduced the first building blocks of life on Earth. If that is the case, is it any wonder human civilization developed from the start with a drive to create—and consume—fermented beverages?
McGovern (prepare yourself for the best job title ever) is the Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. He began his archaeological career as a student of pottery. Later, fascinated by the idea that new technology could potentially identify beverage residues often found inside excavated vessels, he became a pioneer in the field of analyzing these chemical fingerprints, which led to the discovery of the earliest-known fermented beverages from a variety of cultures. McGovern recently presented a lecture at the Getty Villa in Malibu, CA, where he illuminated his findings in a combination of archaeological discovery; scientific investigation; and the study of ancient texts and art, demonstrating the historical importance of alcohol in human culture, society and religion.
“Life is based on fermentation,” McGovern said. While the statement can be interpreted literally (it is believed that glycolysis—sugar fermentation—was the first form of energy production for life on Earth), it also speaks to the broader fact that nearly every single creature on the planet—from fig wasps, to elephants, to modern-day humans clinking crystal goblets—is attracted to the alcohol that results from the natural fermentation of yeast and sugar. The oldest discovered alcoholic beverage residue, from 9,000-year-old vessels unearthed at a gravesite in Jiahu, China, proves our forebears were both innovative and reverent in their creation and use of local “grog.”


Tartaric acid. C15H31COOC30H61, otherwise known as beeswax. Phytosterols indicating a temperate-climate grain such as rice. These sterile-sounding compounds were all that remained in ancient jars, buried with the dead in Jiahu to ensure a well-sated afterlife. What the jars ensured, as well, was that many thousands of years later, we would gain keen insight into the way past cultures interacted with both their deceased and their fermented beverages.
The buried beverage, analyzed via liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS); carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis; and infrared spectrometry, was determined to contain a mixture of native-grape and hawthorn-fruit wine (the tartaric-acid component), honey mead (the beeswax component), and rice beer (the grain component). This finding marked the earliest use of grape as an ingredient in a fermented beverage anywhere in the world. After he examined the carved-bone flutes found in the grave, and studied writings reflecting the time, McGovern ascertained that the beverages were merely one part of an intricate religious funeral ceremony involving music, food, dance and divination, with consumption of the local mixed-fermented beverage a crucial aspect of connecting the mortal and the spirit worlds.


Whether the hermetically sealed royal tomb discovered in 1957 in Turkey, dubbed “the Midas tumulus” and dated to 750-700 BC, actually belonged to the real-life King Midas, or his father, or his grandfather, one fact is certain: It contained more Iron-Age drinking vessels than any other site ever found. The room was filled with 157 bronze containers, many full of a bright yellow residue, which McGovern was keen to analyze.
This was the first ancient beverage McGovern and his team identified, and they were surprised at the results. “Phrygian grog,” McGovern dubbed it. The results proved this noble king was sent to the afterlife with many liters of a mixture of barley beer, grape wine, and honey mead—a blend that seemed undrinkable to the modern palate, accustomed to keeping beer and wine in their separate worlds. (“Never mix the barley and the grape,” my late grandmother admonished.) But later discoveries, such as the Jiahu site mentioned above, proved earlier civilizations had been crafting similar mixtures for many thousands of years. “If you’ve got it, ferment it,” seemed to be the spirit of the times, and discoveries in cultures to come would prove the ingenuity of using locally grown fruits, grains and other sugar sources to create alcoholic beverages.


The smallish but mighty cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, is native to the tropics of Central and South America, and the Amazon. Its flowers are pollinated by midges, small flying insects whose work allows these flowers to grow into pods the size of an American football, containing a sweet, juicy pulp that—naturally—begins to ferment if a pod should happen to hit the ground and crack. Clay jars found in Puerto Escondido, Honduras, dating back to 1400 BC and analyzed in the lab by McGovern, held theobromine residues, proving that these people, like others proven throughout time to utilize native fruits for their fermented pleasures, made and drank a “chocolate wine.”
Just as the other beverages discovered and described above were a key component of cultural and spiritual activities, historical art and writings demonstrate that the cacao-based brew of South America—which was flavored with everything from honey, to flowers, to vanilla—also served as a form of liquid courage, celebration, and cultural touchstone. As South American culture evolved, the Mayan creation myth established humankind as originating from maize, sweet fruits and cacao. Later, Aztecs not only used cacao beans as currency, but also gave the cacao tree a central place in mythology, representing the ancestors and blood itself.


If all this talk of fermented beverages has made you thirsty, well, you are not alone. Luckily, McGovern’s curiosity about ancient brews does not end with sheer academic analysis. Over the years, he has worked with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, DE to actually re-create versions of the three ancient beverages mentioned in this story, based on the ingredients identified by decidedly 21st-century tactics.
Dogfish Head (motto: “Off-Centered Ales for Off-Centered People”) had a history of its own that dovetailed perfectly with McGovern’s quest. Founded as a small brewpub in 1995 by Sam Calagione, the company quickly began to invent, create and offer a head-spinning myriad of exotic brewed beverages. Brown ale made with beet sugar and raisins? It is a best-seller. A beer that includes a component from every continent—Australian ginger and South American quinoa among them? Why not?
“We’ve explored recipes and ingredients that encompass the whole culinary world,” Calagione said. “Working with the physical evidence of these ancient beverages was inspiring and exciting, to know factually what they really were, and extrapolate to come up with modern recipes.”
Those recipes include what Calagione calls “the biggest liberty we take” in his company’s commitment to maintain authenticity while recreating brews from thousands of years ago—the controlled, hygienic brewing environment. “We know what yeast we’re adding; we can control the process, which are things our ancient-brewing brethren were not able to do,” he said. “All ancient beverages probably were spoiled, in the context of today’s palate.”
Made possible by modern technology, the three recreated Dogfish Head beverages offered Getty Villa lecture attendees a millennia-spanning taste of Neolithic China; Turkey circa 740 BC; and Mayan royalty. The authenticity did not extend to fired-clay serving vessels—in another nod to modernity, plastic cups were the method of delivery—but it was truly fascinating to sip each creation and imagine its origins. (Tasting notes appear below.)
“Think of these beverages as liquid time capsules,” McGovern said. Under a steely gray sky, as whisper-soft rain coated the Edenic outdoor sanctum of the Villa, one could hardly help but allow the mind to wander, transported to faraway places and unknown times, all the way back to the primordial soup. After all, despite the vast differences among civilizations throughout history, one fact unites us: Since life began, we have been driven by the pursuit of fermentation—and its results.


“Chateau Jiahu,” Dogfish Head, Milton, DE. Recreated from the oldest-discovered fermented beverage in history, found in 9,000-year-old drinking cups recovered from a burial site in Jiahu, China. A brew of brown rice syrup, orange blossom honey, muscat grape, barley malt and hawthorn berry. 10% ABV:
A nose of honey and white flowers. On the palate, sweet upfront, with notes of honey and lilac. Creamy mouthfeel. Just-so-slightly bitter finish with an orange-rind presence.
“Midas Touch,” Dogfish Head, Milton, DE. Recreated from 2,700-year-old drinking vessels recovered from the Turkish tomb possibly belonging to the person (or a relative) mythologized as King Midas. Brewed from barley malt, honey, white muscat grapes and saffron. 9% ABV.
A lemony-citrus nose, with mild notes of saffron. Malt and more citrus on the palate, and a bit of toast. Crisp and beer-like.
“Theobroma,” Dogfish Head, Milton, DE. Recreated from Honduran pottery residue circa 1200 BC. Brewed from cacao powder and nibs, honey, Ancho chiles, and achiote (annatto). 9% ABV.
Completely chocolatey on the nose, but no chocolate present on the palate. Quickly moves to a “spice soup” and malted flavor. Chile notes seem to appear and disappear between sips. Changes with every taste. Wild, unexpected, and difficult to analyze in the sample size poured.
Recommended reading: For a greatly detailed journey into the history and science of life, culture and alcoholic beverages, see Dr. Patrick E. McGovern’s book “Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer and Other Alcoholic Beverages,” University of California Press, 2009.
Dogfish Head plans a Fall release of their latest collaboration with Dr. Patrick E. McGovern—Ta Henket, an ancient Egyptian brew identified through hieroglyphics and recreated with dom-palm fruit, za’atar, chamomile, and wild yeast isolated from a date farm in Cairo.

Clever Quick Response Codes


15 Beautiful and Creative QR Codes [PICS]

In the same way that bar codes don’t have to be boring, quick response codes can also be creative. Thanks to a 30% tolerance in readability, you can have some real fun with clever designs. Besides looking good, this can also make them more successful.
“Designer QR codes are not only a way to make your 2D barcode stand out, but they also add a more human element to the otherwise cold and techie appearance,” says Patrick Donnelly, QR code designer and expert. “This could be the difference between someone scanning your code or not.”
Take a look through the image gallery for 15 brilliant designs created for a range of businesses from big names such as Disney, little names such as local restaurants and even conceptual ideas. Let us know in the comments if a clever design would make you more likely to scan a code.