What are the most valued scents? Can a universal ranking of favorite scents by humans be created? On what do preferences depend?
These questions are very useful, especially for those who make wine and want to give their bottle a distinct scent. Well, the research “The perception of odor pleasantness is shared across cultures” would seem to answer these questions.
The study was published in the scientific journal Current Biology and was conducted by a team of international researchers, from those at Oxford University to those at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
The primary goal, as the title suggests, is to understand whether “the perception of pleasantness of odors is based on universal principles, dictated by culture, or simply a matter of personal taste“. For this reason, the researchers asked 225 individuals from 9 different non-Western cultures to rank single-molecular odors from most to least pleasant.
The result of the research shows that culture explains only 6% of the variance in the pleasantness rankings, while 54% can be attributed to personal taste, and molecular identity explains 41% of the preferences.
Simply put, the research shows that there is a universal perception of odors that is driven by molecular structure, which explains why we like or dislike a certain odor, even though there is a “personal component” in people’s preferences.
The study therefore shows that human olfactory perception is strongly constrained by universal principles, disregarding cultural background.
Specifically, the scent that would seem to be most liked is vanilla, followed by ethyl butyrate (which is identified with the smell of apple and pineapple). The least preferred? Isovaleric acid, which can be found in foods such as cheese, soy milk, and apple juice.
By what strategy can we incorporate the scent of vanilla into wine?
In wines, the hint of vanilla is not obtainable without contact with toasted oak, as it is an aroma that is obtained from the degeneration of lignin. The level of toasting of the oak turns out to be equally crucial, as this very process leads to the release of this kind of scent.
essedielle offers several solutions, to choose a more economical alternative route to barrels:
– several alternative wood solutions, such as the two flagship products Oak Tan R and Oak Tan W, toasted wood chips that ensure high levels of release of aromatic compounds with extreme precision and consistency of quality, guaranteeing extremely reproducible results to the range of live-fire toasted woods and thus giving complexity and results very close to traditional solutions;
– essedielle‘s range of liquid tannins, in ascending order of toast level: Tonneau Liquid, Flavour Tan Liquid and Vintage. Produced by essedielle, these are blends of ellagic tannins designed to intervene not only on the protective level for color protection and antioxidant function, but also to impart softness and the typical hints of oak contact.
As for ethyl butyrate, on the other hand, we can say that the fruity aromas of wine are mainly primary (varietal) but also related to fermentation processes (secondary). Therefore, we need to proceed with strategies that optimize the production of these aromas by acting in an integrated way on yeast choice and nutrition. In essedielle products, yeasts with characteristics oriented on thiol flavors of white-fleshed and tropical fruits such as Esotico DL7 or Vinoferm Crio can be found, which during the fermentative course (especially in the early stages) can be accompanied by activators that contain a high supply of amino acids, which are essential for flavor biosynthesis, such as Vinomix, 100% yeast autolysate with 40% amino acid content, or Complex Vit, a blend of autolysate and peels for a balanced supply of organic nitrogen, trace elements and detoxifying effect on must.