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Consumer perception of food-beverage pairings: the influence of unity in variety and balance

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Kjetil Aune

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International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science 2015; Volume 2. p. 83–92. 2015

Paulsen, Morten T.; Paulsen, Morten thyregod; Rognså, Guro H.; Hersleth, Margrethe

Good pairing recommendations may be crucial for the success of foods and beverages, both in the retail and hospitality sector. Food–beverage pairings are often presented by culinary professionals such as chefs or sommeliers, however little focus has been given to consumer perception of such pairings. The main objective of this study was to investigate consumer perception of overall percepts of food–beverage pairings. Combinations of soup and craft beer were used as model pairings. Soups were developed by a chef according to an experimental design with the basic tastes as factors. Craft beer types were selected according to sensory profile, popularity in the market and culinary recommendations. Results from the consumer study demonstrated significant effects of beer type on liking. Relative-to-ideal ratings for balance demonstrated that dominance of either of the components significantly reduced liking and harmony, while dominance of soup significantly reduced perceived complexity. Results also demonstrated that perceived sensory complexity was highly correlated with liking of pairings when perceived sensory harmony also was rated as high. This study introduces the use of a “just about balanced” (JAB) scale for rating the relative balance of intensity between two products. Some of the challenges with combining culinary creativity with experimental product development are also discussed.

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