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Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine
Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine
Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine
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Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine

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In his new book, Gordon M. Shepherd expands on the startling discovery that the brain creates the taste of wine. This approach to understanding wine’s sensory experience draws on findings in neuroscience, biomechanics, human physiology, and traditional enology. Shepherd shows, just as he did in Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters, that creating the taste of wine engages more of the brain than does any other human behavior. He clearly illustrates the scientific underpinnings of this process, along the way enhancing our enjoyment of wine.

Neuroenology is the first book on wine tasting by a neuroscientist. It begins with the movements of wine through the mouth and then consults recent research to explain the function of retronasal smell and its extraordinary power in creating wine taste. Shepherd comprehensively explains how the specific sensory pathways in the cerebral cortex create the memory of wine and how language is used to identify and imprint wine characteristics. Intended for a broad audience of readersfrom amateur wine drinkers to sommeliers, from casual foodies to seasoned chefsNeuroenology shows how the emotion of pleasure is the final judge of the wine experience. It includes practical tips for a scientifically informed wine tasting and closes with a delightful account of Shepherd’s experience tasting classic Bordeaux vintages with French winemaker Jean-Claude Berrouet of the Chateau Petrus and Dominus Estate.
Data de lançamento29 de nov. de 2016
Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine
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    This is too much science for the casual wine drinker! But for those into brain science and research and how it relates to the wine-drinking experience, it could be of interest. In summary: how we enjoy wine is a combination of things: sensory, cognitive, movement, pleasure and language, and how they work in concert in the brain to reveal a wine's taste. I did learn something new, retronasal airflow, and how that contributes to the wine-drinking experience. This title was mentioned in a Seattle Times wine column.

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Neuroenology - Gordon M. Shepherd



How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine

Gordon M. Shepherd



Columbia University Press

Publishers Since 1893

New York   Chichester, West Sussex


Copyright © 2017 Gordon M. Shepherd

All rights reserved

E-ISBN 978-0-231-54287-6

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Shepherd, Gordon M., 1933– author.

Title: Neuroenology : how the brain creates the taste of wine / Gordon M. Shepherd.

Description: New York : Columbia University Press, [2017] | Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2016021877 (print) | LCCN 2016023079 (e-book) | ISBN 9780231177009 (cloth : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780231542876 (e-book)

Subjects: LCSH: Wine tasting. | Food—Sensory evaluation.

Classification: LCC TP548.5.A5 S54 2017 (print) | LCC TP548.5.A5 (e-book) | DDC 641.2/2—dc23

LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016021877

A Columbia University Press E-book.

CUP would be pleased to hear about your reading experience with this e-book at cup-ebook@columbia.edu.

COVER IMAGES: iStockphoto and Shutterstock

COVER DESIGN: Milenda Nan Ok Lee

To Grethe



Introduction   A New Approach to Wine Tasting


Fluid Dynamics of Wine Tasting

1   Sip and Saliva

2   The Tongue: Moving the Wine

3   Respiration and Wine Aromas

4   The Pathway for Retronasal Airflow

5   Swallow, Aroma Burst, and Finish


How Sensory Systems Create the Taste of Wine

6   Sight: Creating the Color of Wine

7   Orthonasal Smell: Wine Molecules Meet Smell Receptors

8   Orthonasal Smell: Creating a Wine Aroma Image

9   Orthonasal Smell: From Odor Image to Aroma Perception

10   Touch and the Mouthfeel of Wine

11   Taste Modalities and Wine Tasting

12   Creating Taste Perception

13   Retronasal Smell: The Hidden Force in Wine Tasting

14   Retronasal Smell: What Is So Special?

15   Retronasal Smell: Creating the Multisensory Wine Flavor


How Central Brain Systems Create the Pleasure of the Taste of Wine

16   Wine Tasting, Gender, and Aging

17   Memory and Wine Tasting

18   The Language of Wine Tasting

19   Pleasure: The Final Judge in Wine Tasting

20   Practical Applications of Neuroenology to the Pleasure of Wine Tasting

Appendix: A Wine-Tasting Tutorial with Jean-Claude Berrouet




This book builds on the principles I presented in Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters (2012). It is to some extent a modern update of Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s classic, The Physiology of Taste (1825). There is finally enough experimental and theoretical physiology to begin to answer some of the questions raised in that treatise, and the taste of wine serves as an excellent example.

I have many to thank for assistance in this endeavor, including my editor Patrick Fitzgerald, aided by my colleague Stuart Firestein, of Columbia University. In Neurogastronomy, I devoted much of a chapter to how the brain creates the taste of wine, but it only whetted their appetite for more. Patrick quietly but persistently urged me to expand it into a book. We agreed that it would not be a traditional wine book with a focus on the wine; rather, it would be on an entirely new subject: how the brain creates the taste of wine, based on principles that would apply to all wines. As will be seen, the take-home message is: the taste is not in the wine; the taste is created by the brain.

A key role in this book has been played by my wife, Grethe, who over the years has organized visits with many friends in Paris and elsewhere in France. In my interactions with neuroscience colleagues there I became a friend of Jean Didier-Vincent, of the Universities of Bordeaux and Paris, a leading gourmet and wine expert. In 2000, he invited me to participate in Du Vin (On Wine), an episode of his radio program on science, through which I met Jean-François Moueix, the owner of Petrus, the world’s most expensive wine, and his chief wine taster, the renowned Jean-Claude Berrouet. Jean-Claude kindly agreed to give me a personal wine tasting to test my theories on how the brain creates the perception of flavor, which stimulated me to begin thinking about writing this book. Notes I made from this special tasting are in the appendix.

One of the principles I have followed in writing Neurogastronomy and now Neuroenology is to build on my laboratory experiments on the sense of smell. For this I draw on a vast literature in biomedical science, a literature that is revolutionizing our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal brain function. There is much in this literature that gives insight into the dominant role of smell and the roles of the other senses in creating our perception of flavor, but little of it has yet entered the mainstream of writings on the flavor of food or the flavor of wine. In addition, there is little on the motor control and muscle side of wine tasting, which is crucial to moving the wine through our mouth and the volatiles through our airways.

The challenge in this book is to make these scientific advances interesting and relevant to the experience of wine tasting. I only hope I can impart a little of the sense of excitement that I and my colleagues feel in our scientific studies. All failings and errors in this attempt are entirely mine. Wendolyn Hill has again converted my sketches into elegant illustrations. Pamela Nelson, Ryan Groendyk, Irene Pavitt, and Milenda Lee have provided wonderful support in bringing the manuscript through production.

I have benefited from collaborations with and advice from many colleagues. They include flavor experts Dana Small, Ivan de Araujo, Justus Verhagen, and Barry Green at the John B. Pierce Laboratory and Yale University; Gary Beauchamp, Marci Pelchat, and Julie Menella of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia; Terry Acree, Cornell University; Chris Loss, Culinary Institute of America; Harvard anthropologists Richard Wrangham and Dan Lieberman; paleontologist Timothy Rowe of the University of Texas, Austin; Pierre-Marie Lledo, Pasteur Institute; Gordon M. G. Shepherd, Northwestern University; Ole Mouritsen, University of Southern Denmark; Marina Bentivoglio, University of Verona; Marta Dizy Soto, University of Rioja; and Anna Menini, International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste.

For my education in wine tasting I’m especially grateful, in addition to Jean-Didier and Jean-Claude, at various times over the years to Ann Noble at the University of California,