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ABSTRACT

A comparison was made between a highly experienced and a highly experienced and formally trained group of wine tasters in their ability to effectively communicate about wine. The ability to match a wine to a description was used to assess the description's communicative value. Both groups matched three Chardonnay wines to peer generated descriptions. The untrained group also matched wines to consensus descriptions produced by experienced enologists. Both groups were able to match wines to descriptions well above that expected by chance with the performance of the trained group being better in this regard. The best matching performance was attained by the untrained group matching to the expert consensus descriptions. Descriptions correctly matched by the trained group contained a significantly higher number of concrete tactile and palate intensity terms while the use of terms describing the complex dimensions of wine by the untrained mitigated against information transfer. Untrained panelists used concrete terms as cues for identification, while trained panelists relied more on vague and abstract terms. The results also suggest that descriptions are interpreted by both trained and untrained experienced tasters in a synthetic rather than analytic fashion.