Masters Theses

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Food Science

Major Professor

Curtis R. Luckett

Committee Members

Francine H. Hollis, John P. Munafo


Wine odor is a key component of wine quality and is one of the most complex food odors humans perceive. This thesis used two separate studies to answer the following questions: first, how is wine odor perception influenced by visual cues on packaging (i.e. wine label)? And second, how sensitive are humans to subtle changes in wine odor? In the first study odor-color-shape crossmodal interactions with complex odor stimuli (chardonnay odors) and visual stimuli were investigated. The results showed that most chardonnay odors were grouped similarly; however, the vegetable-forward wine was more associated with sharper shapes. In general, yellow labels tended to be better matched with all odors, except the vegetable-forward wine, which was matched equally to all colors; indicating that, regardless of odor character, chardonnay is mostly associated with a yellow colored label. Interestingly, results also indicated that not all correspondences aligned with the most common color association of an odor character’s (i.e., vegetative was not strictly associated with green, nor smoky with brown, etc.). Significant correlations between stimuli liking and matching scores indicate that many of the correspondences are explained by hedonics. In a second study, designed to assess general human sensitivity to changes in wine odor, a model wine odor was used to gauge the discriminatory ability of experts and novices. Panelists as a whole were not able to discriminate between either the addition or subtraction samples compared to their base counterparts. Furthermore, expertise did not seem to play a role in discriminatory abilities either, with experts and novices producing similar d' values. Overall, the d' values were consistently low and demonstrate that the stimuli were challenging to discriminate between. Taken together, these studies show that specific wine odor characteristics do correspond with specific visual stimuli and human sensitivity to changes in odor mixtures is not extremely high, even in wine experts.


Portions of this document were previously published in journal: Food Quality and Preference.

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