Does training with aromas help the tasting ability of wine experts?


We all know that describing the aromas of a wine is difficult task for most people. We also know that the ability to discriminate a specific odor at a low concentration varies among people. In fact, the ability to detect a specific smell is due to biological/genetical aspects and it is due to olfactory training. The genetics play an important role in how we smell, as almost 30% of the genes responsible for our olfaction is different from one person to another. This means that some people struggle more than others when trying to perceive a specific odor. The training is proven to “modify” our brain, which is “plastic”, to better use our olfactory receptors and increase our ability.  

For instance, beta-ionone is a chemical compound present in many red wines and it is responsible for the wine floral aromas (it recalls the violet smell). It was found that people who are less sensitive to beta-ionone (who struggle the most to detect it at low concentrations) describe it as “chemical” rather than “floral”. And this affects also how the same people perceive and describe the bouquet of a wine.

 For this reason, it is important that wine lovers and wine experts improve their ability to perceive key wine aromas also at low concentrations.

 As we can imagine, exposure to wine and wine consumption in general is already a sort of “implicit” training which is demonstrated to improve olfaction and aroma discrimination ability. Nevertheless, “explicit” training, meaning repeated and methodical exposure to a specific aroma is demonstrated to further improve olfaction even in wine experts with a significant exposure to wine.

 This was proven by a study carried out by the Université de Bordeaux and Université Aix-Marseille (1). The study found that the ability to perceive some aromas at low concentrations improves significantly with explicit training. The experiment involved a group of wine experts (wine growers, wine merchants, wine makers) who were asked to train for one month smelling every day for about a minute a bottle containing a specific odorant. The odorant compounds used were diacetyl (recalling buttery notes) and linalool (recalling coriander seeds, apricot, and muscat notes). Each wine expert was asked to train with the one odorant, diacetyl or linalool, that they struggled the most to perceive. “As a result of the training, the experts' detection thresholds for the specific compound concerned, linalool or diacetyl, were markedly reduced”, and therefore their ability improved.

 TasterPlace Aromas are the ideal tool for those who want to train their sense of smell and improve their ability to recognize aromas in foods and drinks during tasting and tasting.

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 (1) Explicit Sensory Training Improves the Olfactory Sensitivity of Wine Expert.
Tempere & E. Cuzange & J. C. Bougeant & G. de Revel & G. Sicard
Chem. Percept. (2012) 5:205–213
DOI 10.1007/s12078-012-9120-1

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