GSharpen the Senses

A stimulating presentation from Anne Krebiehl MW, presenting the German wines, and Professor Barry Smith, Co-Founder of the Centre for the Study of the Senses, presenting on how our senses interact.


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Barry started off by reminding us of our main senses:







But there are many others………and they all interact.


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Of these, the tongue contributes our sense of







Fat (possibly)


Hence the importance of smell, which actually informs our perception of flavour. And there are two types of smelling – orthonasal and retronasal olfaction.

We smell when we breathe – and when we eat and drink.

Sometimes the two conflict with eachother, a mismatch – we often say “it tastes better than it smells” or vice-versa.


Contrary to what I had been trained to believe, swallowing does make a difference to tasting – it pulses odours up to the nose. Try it!


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Barry also mentioned the importance of the trigeminal nerve which feeds messages to the eyes, nose and mouth. This provides the sense that recoils at mustard, wasabi or chilli. Bubbles are trigeminal stimulants. CO2 suppresses sweetness and stimulates sourness.


He summarised neatly: aftertaste is really aftersmell.


We tasted the following wines
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Wines 1 and 2

Contrasting aroma and palate

Riesling Sekt 2014 – Reichsrat von Buhl, Pfalz

Riesling Sekt 2005 Reserve – Sekthaus Solter, Rheingau


Wine 3 – Rosé – tasted blind from an opaque glass

Pinot Noir Rosé 2015 – Meyer Näkel, Ahr

For me, it smelt red and tasted white!


Wines 4 and 5

Texture. If you give people a fabric to stroke while tasting a wine, it will influence whether the perception is silky, satin……or velcro! So especially relevant to wines with tannins.

Pinot Noir 2013 – Shelter, Baden

Lemberger 2012 – Simonroth Schnaitmann, Württemberg


Wines 6 and 7

Complexity – influence of blend, oak, maturity

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Assemblage 2013 – Frey, Rheinhessen

Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Lemberger/Spätburgunder 2012 – Cuvée Bercher, Baden


Wines 8 and 9

Intensity of aroma

Complementary characteristics – bitter sweet, NOT bitter sour!

And influence of sound on taste.

Base notes bring out bitterness.

High notes bring out sweetness.

On an aircraft, white noise reduces sensitivity to sweet, sour, salty, bitter by 15%. But NOT umami. Therefore drink tomato juice in the air. Or use noise cancelling earphones!


Riesling Trocken 2014 – Lubentiushof Gäns, Mosel

Riesling Kabinett 2014 – Lubentiushof Gäns, Mosel


Wines 10 and 11

Minerality – perceptions differ, but many accept that we smell minerality and taste salinity. Anne Krebiehl MW pointed out that one common aspect of ALL wines called mineral is highish acidity.

In this pair, same wine different vintages, the different aromas influence our perception of sweetness and fulness in the wine.


Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2014 – Prüm, Mosel

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2009 – Prüm, Mosel


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