All posts tagged: sensory

Thinking in Smell

Of the five senses, smell in Western culture has gotten a bad rap. In the English language there are fewer positive equivalents for the sense of smell than there are for the other four senses. You might sniff out a deal or smell a rat but the terms for nose in our vocabulary particularly as they relate to wine are more often than not derogatory (snobby, snooty, snotty, etc.).

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Big data supports expert wine tasters

In the course of developing software for predicting consumer wine preferences, a Houston-based start up, VineSleuth, shed new light on the abilities of expert wine tasters and the validity of blind tasting assessments. Contrary to popular belief, the company’s VineSleuth metrics, which are based on the work of Chief Science Officer Michael Tompkins and his team, reveal that tasters can consistently identify aroma and flavor characteristics in blind wine evaluations. “We have extensive experimental data which support that expert evaluators have the capacity to precisely identify wine characteristics in blind repeat samples,” said Tompkins whose work spans thirteen years in the field of numerical methods. “During the course of our experiments, our vetted evaluators repeat sample characteristics about 90% of the time,” he says. VineSleuth’s data directly confronts the popular misconception that consistent sensory evaluation of wine is a random occurrence. In developing an algorithm designed to help consumers make wine selections based on personal preference, the company has established a benchmark based on the results of its top-performing tasters (including this author) and intends …

The trilemma of primary, secondary and tertiary aromas

Primary wine flavors (the combination of aromas and tastes) come from the grape variety itself and are almost always fruity except when they’re not. Secondary aromas are those associated with post-fermentation winemaking and include yeast, lees, yogurt, cream, butter or cheese and a full spectrum of flavors derived from oak. Tertiary flavors are defined as deliberate oxidation, fruit development, bottle age or any combination thereof.

Riedel celebrates 260 years of glassware expertise

There’s no question that glassware can alter our perceptions of wine. It’s a phenomenon experienced by every resourceful consumer who has pressed a plastic cup into service when a wineglass wasn’t close. While the proliferation of shapes intended to complement or enhance specific wines has been met with skepticism from certain corners, without empirical evidence to the contrary, simply increasing the measure of enjoyment that’s obtained from a glass of wine has validated the practice and the efforts of Austrian glassware maker Riedel. Science has already provided empirical evidence that makes a case for the superiority of wine glasses for the appreciation of wine. Using a thermal imaging technique, Japanese researchers have captured pictures of ethanol vapors volatizing from a wine glass in a ring-shaped pattern, with the area of lowest alcohol in the center. This “donut hole” effect allows for greater appreciation of volatile aroma compounds without the added interference from ethanol. When wine was tested from a Martini or straight glass it didn’t exhibit a ring shaped-vapor pattern, proof enough that wine glasses …

Are sensory descriptors a tasting room turn-off?

A Cornell University study suggests that including sensory descriptors on tasting sheets can reduce sales in the tasting room. Contrary to popular belief – and the results of previous wine and food studies – including sensory descriptors in tasting room col­lateral materials may not increase wine sales. Spurred by the lack of research available about the effect sensory descriptors have on con­sumer choice when used in con­junction with product samples, researchers at Cornell University looked to winery tasting rooms in New York for answers. According to Miguel I. Gómez, the Ruth and William Morgan Assis­tant Professor at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, who conducted the study in conjunction with graduate student Marin Shapiro, “The study has raised the issue with tasting room managers that certain kinds of information may work better than others.” Gómez has presented the work before industry and busi­ness audiences on the East Coast and noted that tasting room manag­ers there have begun experiment­ing with their tasting notes to see what effect those modifications have on sales. The study, …