The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Truth behind wine buffs’ fancy phrases

London, Oct. 31 (Reuters): The honeyed phrases flow like the wines they describe, but the truth is that wine experts often use a torrent of language to disguise the fact they can’t always put a name to the aroma they are smelling.

Those wine buffs who say: “You’ll be impressed by its berried impudence” or urge us to “bask in its sumptuous oakiness” are actually no better at getting the right description than any other drinker, New Scientist magazine said yesterday. But the magazine said wine experts do have a strong memory for smells.

Researchers in New Zealand tested the ability of 11 wine experts and 11 novices to recognise and name 12 individual chemicals that are components of wine aromas.

They were then given an additional 12 samples and asked both groups to name them and say whether they were among the original 12. “The wine experts proved just as inept as the novices at naming odours,” the magazine said. “But the experts did excel in recognising whether an odour had been repeated a task that draws on their memory of smell itself, rather than their verbal ability. A second study, still unpublished, yielded almost identical results,” it added.

The ability to remember the experience of various wines is crucial, Anthony Dias Blue, wine editor of Bon Appetit magazine told New Scientist. That, he said, is just a matter of practice.

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