Wine tasting is a multidimensional experience that includes contextual information from tasting environments. Formal sensory tastings are limited by the use of booths that lack ecological validity and engagement. Virtual reality (VR) can overcome this limitation by simulating different environmental contexts. Perception, sensory acceptability, and emotional responses of a Cabernet Sauvignon wine under traditional sensory booths, contextual environments, and VR simulations were evaluated and compared. Participants (N
= 53) performed evaluations under five conditions: (1) traditional booths, (2) bright-restaurant (real environment with bright lights), (3) dark-restaurant (real environment with dimly lit candles), (4) bright-VR (VR restaurant with bright lights), and (5) dark-VR (VR restaurant with dimly lit candles). Participants rated the acceptability of aroma, sweetness, acidity, astringency, mouthfeel, aftertaste, and overall liking (9-point hedonic scale), and intensities of sweetness, acidity, and astringency (15-point unstructured line-scale). Results showed that context (booths, real, or VR) affected the perception of the wine’s floral aroma (dark-VR = 8.6 vs. booths = 7.5). Liking of the sensory attributes did not change under different environmental conditions. Emotional responses under bright-VR were associated with “free”, “glad”, and “enthusiastic”; however, under traditional booths, they were related to “polite” and “secure”. “Nostalgic” and “daring” were associated with dark-VR. VR can be used to understand contextual effects on consumer perceptions.
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