I recently attended a beer tasting at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, TX. As an aside, Cowboy Stadium is amazing. It is high tech, has great food and very clearly, is a new standard in American Stadiums. We had the opportunity to take a tour and it was incredible to see the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders practicing their routines directly from the field sidelines. I found the entire experience infectious and would enjoy watching a game live.
But back to the Beer Tasting… I am not much of a beer drinker, but our tasting guides had an acronym to describe the evaluation of each beer and I found the simplicity of their sensory evaluation to be something that I could pass on: AATMF. These five letters stand for Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouthfeel and Finish.
Appearance – Appearance can reflect the color, the consistency, smoothness of texture and generally all the visual elements that are common in determining the appeal of the product.
Aroma – Over 70% of taste perception is attributed to aroma, or smell. If it smells good, chances are, it tastes good! Taste – Taste and aroma account for most of the perception of a product. Our taste buds allow us to taste bitter, salty, sweet, and sour flavors. There is a huge body of research done on taste and smell and we will go into that later.
Mouthfeel - With beverages, some people can feel the product in their mouth, and they can describe food and beverage a variety of ways: creamy, thick, thin, coating, and a number of other ways. This attribute is how you perceive the texture of the product in the mouth. One simple example is sugar and HFCS. While we don’t manufacture anything using High Fructose Corn Syrup anymore, we had a hard time getting out of it because it has a thicker viscosity than sugar, and therefore, our customers felt it was a creamier, richer taste. In order to achieve that same feeling with sugar, we had to add more sugar to increase the viscosity and create a similar mouthfeel.
Finish – The finish is essential. Once the product has left your mouth, the sensation it evokes afterwards can either linger of end quickly. If it ends quickly, the perception tends to be that it is not very strong. If it lingers at the back of the mouth and in the air passages (due to the aroma), the sensation is one of satisfaction and fullness.
So, now you know the 5 different evaluative areas, try something. Enjoy a glass a wine, your favorite flavored cocktail or a cup of coffee and evaluate how the beverage looks, smells, tastes, feels, and lingers in your mouth. Feel free to share your results here!