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Perception. 2011;40(5):598-607.

Labeling, identification, and recognition of wine-relevant odorants in expert sommeliers, intermediates, and untrained wine drinkers.

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Dipartimento di Psicologia Generale, via Venezia 8, 35100 Padua, Italy.


In this study we examined the development of wine expertise. We asked four groups--untrained wine drinkers, second- and third-level trainee sommeliers, and professional sommeliers--to engage in a range of olfactory tasks to assess perceptual and semantic aspects of expertise. These tasks included identification, recognition, and description of a range of domain-specific and common odour stimuli, including wines. Trainee sommeliers were significantly poorer at identification of wine-relevant odours than untrained wine drinkers and professional sommeliers. Trainee and professional sommeliers were, however, significantly better than untrained wine drinkers in a delayed matching-to-sample wine-recognition task, but not in the case of other odorous stimuli. The wine-description task demonstrated a degree of skill, in terms of specificity and quantity of wine-relevant descriptors, as a function of expertise. These results, of one of the first studies of examining wine expertise by a cross-sectional developmental approach, indicate that perceptual aspects of expertise are probably rapidly acquired, being present even in the second- and third-level trainees, while semantic expertise is slower to develop, and may incur time for the identification of wine-specific odorants during training.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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