Sensory perception and chemistry come together in quality assurance
In Altia’s wine production operations at the Rajamäki plant, the quality of wine is monitored by sensory evaluation as well as chemical laboratory analyses.
“In recent times, we have particularly focused on developing the sensory evaluation of wines. At least five people participate in each evaluation session to ensure a reliable result. The evaluators are trained and their sense of taste is tested,” says Hanna Jatila, Wine Quality Master at Altia.
Quality monitoring applies to beverages produced at the Rajamäki plant as well as wines produced elsewhere and bottled at the Rajamäki plant. Each wine is tested at multiple stages of the process: upon delivery, during processing, and several times during bottling.
Two evaluation sessions are held at the Rajamäki plant each day, lasting from ten minutes to half an hour depending on the number of products being evaluated. Approximately 3,100 wine samples are evaluated each year.
Limit values are specified by legislation
In addition to sensory analysis, wines are also subject to chemical analyses in a laboratory. In the analyses, special attention is paid to sulphur dioxide content. Sulphur dioxide is a preservative that is subject to legal maximum limits.
Like sensory analysis, chemical analysis also takes place at several different stages of the wine production process. Sensory and chemical evaluation complement each other.
“The most important stage in the quality assurance of wine is accepting delivery. When a batch of wine is delivered, samples are taken for the purpose of sensory analysis. If the wine is found to be defective in taste, for example, the delivery will not be accepted. However, this is quite rare, as only a few batches of wine are returned per year.
Cooperation is essential in quality assurance
Wine quality is also monitored by agreements. The agreements between wine producers and Altia’s wine purchasers include an AQS document that serves as a guideline for the chemical composition of the wine. Cooperation between the parties concerned is essential in quality assurance.
“In the event of changes, such as the introduction of faster and more accurate chemical or microbiological methods, Altia must develop its methods accordingly. It is very rewarding to work with major wine and beverage companies, as they give us new perspectives that help us improve our quality assurance further,” Hanna Jatila explains.