WSC416 Sensory Science (8)

This subject will introduce students to the key principles behind the physiology and characteristics of the senses, with a particular focus on wine sensory assessment. Through the application and development of various sensory testing skills and procedures, students will learn to describe and identify sensations produced by major wine components, main wine varieties, styles, Australian regions and common faults.

This subject commences in session 1 and concludes in session 2. Students must enrol in both sessions 1 and 2. It is not possible to commence this subject in session 2.


* Offering has a residential school. Please view following information for further details.

Session 1 (30)
Online *
Wagga Wagga Campus
Session 2 (60)
Online *
Wagga Wagga Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: WSC416. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



Two sessions


School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences

Enrolment Restrictions

This subject is restricted to students enrolled in the Master of Viticulture and Oenology (Articulated Set)

Assumed Knowledge

This subject assumes basic statistical knowledge.

Subject Relationships

WSC216 Paired Subject

Incompatible Subjects

WSC210, WSC216, WSC510

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • Be able to examine the physiology of the perception of taste, smell, texture, chemesthesis and its impact on sample perception characteristics.
  • Be able to critically analyse sensory testing methods and interpret sensory data.
  • Be able to integrate sensory principles to inform wine and grape juice evaluation in relation to important sensory characteristics and their balance, wine type, grape variety, wine style and wine processing.
  • Be able to evaluate wine faults and explain their causes.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • The senses: contrasts of capabilities and physiology; the roles of flavour, odour, taste, texture and appearance.
  • The senses of taste and smell: the sensations, receptors, and their characteristics and interaction, nasal and retronasal pathways, odorant-structure relationships, adaptation, hunger and ageing.
  • Texture: texture types, texture terms and perceptions.
  • Chemesthesis: receptor types, sensation types, sensitisation and adaptation.
  • Appearance: principles of colour vision; attributes of appearance;
  • Sensory assessment: analytic vs hedonic assessment, the role of training, principles of sensory response behaviour, the role of statistics, control of the sensory testing environment.
  • Sensory testing: difference tests, measurement of sensory thresholds, scaling and ranking.
  • Application of sensory principles to wine assessment, the basic tastes, taste interactions, influence of ethanol content, comparison of major wine types, bitterness and astringency, sensory thresholds, influence of wine pH and ageing.
  • Role of odour: interaction of taste and smell, influence of grape variety, introduction to regional effects.
  • Introduction to wine judging, the Australian wine show system, judging wines

Residential School

This subject contains a 4 day Compulsory Residential School.

The Residential School will allow students to conduct a series of tutored tastings facilitating discussion and providing practical examples that help emphasise key subject outcomes. Those tutored tastings will enable students to identify substances that influence key tastes, experience all wine styles and major varieties, practice threshold levels, identify wine faults and practice judging.

Special Resources

Students are required to attend the compulsory residential school which may involve travel and accommodation expenses and a time commitment.

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2021. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.