Wine Industry Newsletter

Talking wine science with school students

Earlier this month year 9 and 10 students at Boyup Brook District High School were treated with a presentation from DAFWA grape and wine research officer Richard Fennessy. As part of the CSIRO led national project ‘Scientists in Schools’ (SMiS), Richard gave students an introduction into wine and sensory science bringing an understanding of real world science and inspiring the next generation of scientists.

Starting with an overview on how wine is made, students were then given an understanding of the chemistry behind wine aroma. This included an explanation on the origin of aromatic compounds found in wine and how interactions with yeast, enzymes and acid influence the forms of such compounds (i.e. non-volatile vs volatile).

Following this, the human olfactory system was explained and discussed so students could understand the physiology involved in the sense of smell and how aromas are recognised.

With an understanding of the chemistry and biology involved in sensory recognition, the students were then tasked with a practical exercise to test their aroma recognition skills. Utilising a Le Nez du Vin® aroma kit, students were asked to match vials of different aromas to certain descriptors. This provided a fun and interactive classroom exercise.

School student learning about wine and sensory science
Student testing their aroma recognition skills.

The presentation also included an overview of the Australian and Western Australian wine industry in terms of economic importance. Richard also spent time talking about his role with DAFWA giving students an insight into a real life example of a career that involves both science and agriculture.