Monday, March 26, 2012

Flavornet: A comprehensive source of wine aroma descriptors

Flavornet is a data base of aroma compounds documented as being detectable by humans.  In an Introduction to Flavornet, Terry Acree and Heinrich Ahn state that approximately 1000 odorants (any substance capable of stimulating the sense of smell -- Medical Dictionary) are responsible for the "seemingly infinite number of perceptions" that result from these aroma compounds binding to olfactory receptor neurons.  This binding results in the creation of a profile in the brain -- if a first time encounter -- or a recognition profile -- if a repeat sensation.

To be included in Flavornet, "an odorant must have been detected in a natural product or real environment." The data base currently contains 738 entries.

The data base is entered by clicking on the Enter Flavornet button at the top right-hand corner of the home page.  A total of six options are presented at the top of the page yielded by the click, the most relevant to the wine taster, in my opinion, being Odors and Odor Classes.  The Odors view of the data base is an alphabetic listing of the odors along with their associated scientific names.  The Odor-Classes view provides a selectable, alphabetical list of Odor Classes where a selected class yields, in turn, all of the odors in that class plus the scientific name associated with each odor.  So, for example, the Odor Class "Animal" is an umbrella for 14 odors including cat, rancid, roast, etc.

If you are constantly on the lookout for descriptors to use in your tasting notes, Flavornet could prove to be a very useful resource.

© Wine -- The View From Orlando

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