The study was aimed at determining the relative importance of olfactory and gustatory information for the vin de garde concept, which refers to wine that is intended for aging. First, the study investigated how olfactory information contributed to the assessment of the aging potential of young wine. Burgundy wine professionals categorized 26 red wines (vintage 2005) according to their aging potential in two experimental conditions: orthonasal evaluation and overall evaluation. Second, the aromatic notes associated with wines perceived with an aging potential were examined. A trained descriptive panel described the odor of the 26 red wines to determine whether the wines judged by wine professionals to have an aging potential (orthonasal evaluation) were characterized by specific aromatic notes. Third, the study investigated how taste and mouthfeel contributed, together with odor, to judgments of aging potential. The trained descriptive panel also assessed taste (sweetness, acidity, and bitterness) and mouthfeel (alcohol and astringency) intensity of the wines. Results showed that odor provides some clues for professional judgment of aging potential. These olfactory clues are sufficient to assess the aging potential for some wines, but not all. Wines judged to have aging potential by orthonasal evaluation tended to have woody, caramel, roasted, and prune notes. Taste and mouthfeel also provided clues for professional judgment of aging potential. Red wines judged to have aging potential by overall evaluation tended to have high astringency and low acidity. Thus, the combination of gustatory and olfactory information allowed professionals to judge the aging potential of wines. The vin de garde concept involves a wide variety of complex perceptual clues (color, odor, taste, and mouthfeel).
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