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The odor of colors: can wine experts and novices distinguish the odors of white, red, and rose wines?

Abstract : Recently, several papers have investigated color-induced olfactory biases in wine tasting. In particular, Morrot et al. (Brain and Language, 79, 309-320, 2001) reported that visual information mostly drove wine description and that odor information was relatively unimportant in wine tasting. The present paper aims to study the relationship between the color of wine and its odor through a different approach. We hypothesize that people have stable mental representations of the aroma of the three wine color categories (red, white, and rose) and that visual information is not a necessary clue to correctly categorize wines by color. In order to explore this issue, we adopted two complementary approaches. In the first one, we presented 18 wines (six reds, six whites, and six roses) in dark glasses to our participants who were asked to smell the wines and categorize them into three categories: 'red wine,' 'white wine,' or 'rose wine.' Because we expected categorization performance to be affected by participants' expertise, we used two groups of participants corresponding to wine experts and wine novices. The second approach was designed in order to verify whether the most salient perceptual differences among samples were correlated with the output of the ternary sorting task. Using the same 18 wines, we asked a third panel composed of trained assessors to perform a wine description, a free sorting task based on wines' odor similarity, and finally, the same ternary sorting task carried out by experts and novices. We found that experts and novices were able to correctly identify red and white wines but not rose wines. Contrary to our expectations, experts and novices performed at the same level. Trained panelists also categorized accurately white wines and red wines but not rose wines. From a more perceptual point of view, the free sorting task yielded virtually the same result. Finally, in terms of wine description, again, a clear segmentation was obtained between white and red wines. White wines were described by yellow or orange odorant sources, while the red wines were described by dark odorant sources. In the light of our results, cognitive mechanisms potentially involved in the organization of sensory knowledge and wine categorization are also discussed.
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Submitted on : Sunday, May 31, 2020 - 11:44:55 AM
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Jordi Ballester, Hervé Abdi, Jennifer Langlois, Dominique Peyron, Dominique Valentin. The odor of colors: can wine experts and novices distinguish the odors of white, red, and rose wines?. Chemosensory Perception, Springer Verlag, 2009, 2 (4), pp.203-213. ⟨10.1007/s12078-009-9058-0⟩. ⟨hal-02667932⟩



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