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Perception of Aqueous Ethanol Binary Mixtures Containing Alcohol-Relevant Taste and Chemesthetic Stimuli

Published: 29 April 2021
 by  MDPI AG
Beverages , Volume 7; doi:10.3390/beverages7020023

Abstract: Ethanol is a complex stimulus that elicits multiple gustatory and chemesthetic sensations. Alcoholic beverages also contain other tastants that impact flavour. Here, we sought to characterize the binary interactions between ethanol and four stimuli representing the dominant orosensations elicited in alcoholic beverages: fructose (sweet), quinine (bitter), tartaric acid (sour) and aluminium sulphate (astringent). Female participants were screened for thermal taste status to determine whether the heightened orosensory responsiveness of thermal tasters (n = 21–22) compared to thermal non-tasters (n = 13–15) extends to these binary mixtures. Participants rated the intensity of five orosensations in binary solutions of ethanol (5%, 13%, 23%) and a tastant (low, medium, high). For each tastant, 3-way ANOVAs determined which factors impacted orosensory ratings. Burning/tingling increased as ethanol concentration increased in all four binary mixture types and was not impacted by the concentration of other stimuli. In contrast, bitterness increased with ethanol concentration, and decreased with increasing fructose concentration. Sourness tended to be reduced as ethanol concentration increased, although astringency intensity decreased with increasing concentration of fructose. Overall, thermal tasters tended to be more responsive than thermal non-tasters. These results provide insights into how the taste and chemesthetic profiles of alcoholic beverages across a wide range of ethanol concentrations can be manipulated by changing their composition.
Keywords: individual differences / wine / beer / alcoholic beverages / binary mixtures / spirits / taste interactions / thermal taste / taste suppression

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