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Explicit Sensory Training Improves the Olfactory Sensitivity of Wine Experts

Abstract

Wine quality is first assessed by experts who evaluate the sensory characteristics of the product using sensory skills. Several studies have shown considerable variation in chemosensory human capacities, including wine tasting experts. Some of them show high olfactory detection thresholds for some key compounds of wine. In addition, several authors have observed an induction of sensitivity in subjects with odor-specific hyposmia and increased sensitivity in persons without specific olfactory disorders after repeated exposure to a substance or practice fragrance smell tests. Given these observations, adapted training for professionals in the wine industry may be appropriate. On this basis, we tested a simple sensory training session, that is to say repeated short-term exposures to odorous wine key compounds, with the hope of improving the detection capabilities of wine professionals who need it. Our results show that the sensitivity of these experts can be changed: the olfactory detection thresholds are reduced in the experts trained. This improvement was limited to the odorant used in the training: learning was not generalized but was odorant specific.

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Correspondence to G. Sicard.

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Tempere, S., Cuzange, E., Bougeant, J.C. et al. Explicit Sensory Training Improves the Olfactory Sensitivity of Wine Experts. Chem. Percept. 5, 205–213 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12078-012-9120-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12078-012-9120-1

Keywords

  • Detection threshold
  • Wine experts
  • Training
  • Sensitivity
  • Hyposmia