Sensory Panel Training: Developing Hospitality Students Analytical and Research Skills




Descriptive analysis, Sensory analysis, Sommelier training, Wine, Wine education


Having been conducted for many years, sensory and flavour analysis have been instrumental in not only developing and assessing the quality of products, but also understanding their nature and unique characteristics.  Relying on a variety of methods, this analysis can take on different forms, ranging from mostly descriptive to more instrumental approaches, which can include sensory panels, whose training is often time-consuming and demanding. Valued by winemakers, descriptive analysis procedures carried out with the help of sensory panels has been extensively used in the food and beverage industry and can be perceived as key within the scope of sommelier training and hospitality programs. However, despite this importance, given its subjective and intensive nature, sensory analysis can be affected by bias and fatigue, requiring regular calibration exercises, combined with structured tasting procedures and protocols. As a result, training sensory panels requires knowledgeable and experienced instructors, dedicated facilities and continuous support, in addition to a comprehensive view that includes other research approaches and tools that can be combined as to produce more valuable and accurate assessment.  

Focused on wine production and drawing from the authors’ experience, this paper aims to reflect on exploratory research methods involving sensory evaluation, putting forward strategies that can be used to support sensory training. Consistent with a work in progress, it addresses the topics of research methods, action research and reflective practice, contributing towards the development of novel approaches within the scope of teaching research methodology in business and management. Despite the focus on wine production, the strategies described aim at enhancing tourism and hospitality students’ research and analytical skills, ultimately being able to benefit other practitioners in the field. 

Author Biographies

Sandra Vasconcelos, ESHT-IPP

Associate Professor (Polytechnic) at the School of Hospitality and Tourism, Polytechnic of Porto, Portugal. She holds a Master and a PhD in Multimedia in Education and is an integrated member of the Research Centre “Didactics and Technology in Education of Trainers” and  UNIAG – Applied Management Research Unit. 

Bebiana Monteiro, 1ESHT, Polytechnic of Porto; CiTUR - Center for Tourism Research, Development and Innovation

Bebiana Monteiro is a Food Engineer and holds an MBA in Management, a Master's in Enology and a specialization in Hospitality and Catering. She has previous experience in production, sensory analysis and quality management in different portuguese wine regions. In addition to teaching, she coordinates the Wine School and the postgraduate programs (Enotourism and Sommelier).