Ann C. Noble

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Ann C Noble
Alma materUniversity of Massachusetts
Known forAroma Wheel
Scientific career
FieldsWine chemistry
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Davis

Ann C. Noble is a sensory chemist and retired professor from the University of California, Davis. During her time at the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, Noble invented the "Aroma Wheel" which is credited with enhancing the public understanding of wine tasting and terminology.[1] At the time of her hiring at UC Davis in 1974, Noble was the first woman hired as a faculty member of the Viticulture department.[2] Noble retired from Davis in 2002 and in 2003 was named Emeritus Professor of Enology. Since retirement she has participated as a judge in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.[3]


After earning her Ph.D. in Food science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Noble was hired by UC Davis in 1974 to work in their sensory research program.[2] After studying the techniques and application of wine tasting, Noble discovered that there was no objective framework or widely agreed upon terminology that a wine taster could use to describe things such as "earthy" aromas or the different smells of various fruits that can show up in a wine. In 1984, her research lead her to develop the "Aroma Wheel".[1] Other research work went into how a wine's aroma and flavor can influence consumer choices as well as how wine tasters perceive astringency in wine.[2] Noble, in addition to her work on the wine aroma wheel, also did research on multivariate statistics of sensory data and its applications. She also published over 150 research papers in her time there.[4]

The Aroma Wheel[edit]

The Aroma Wheel provides a visual graphic of the different categories and aroma components that one can encounter in wine. The terminology used is standardized for use by both professionals and amateur wine tasters. Aroma is identified by the olfactory bulb from through inhalation of the wine's scent, and is used to identify the flavors from the grape itself. Bouquet refers to compounds that can affect the flavours, such as sugar, oak, and acid.[5] The aroma wheel does not contain terms to describe texture or mouthfeel, however these are listed in the Australian "Mouthfeel Wheel". A separate Aroma Wheel has also been created for sparkling wine. The wheel breaks down wine aromas into 12 basic categories and then further sub-divided into different aromas that can fall into those main categories.[1]

The German Wine Institute has created a special German language version of the Aroma Wheel meant to be specially adapted to German wines, with one wheel for white wines and one wheel for red wines.[6] However, in the translation they removed the petroleum smell (and the entire "chemical" category) from the white wine wheel, despite the fact that mature Riesling wines - Germany's signature grape variety - are the best-known examples of wines that show this aroma. It seems that the motive for omitting the reference to petroleum was that many consumers perceive it as a "negative" aroma. The Institute's move has been criticized by foreign experts on German wines.[7]


Noble currently teaches classes domestically and internationally. She also continues to work as a wine judge. She participates in meetings concerning Wine, Science, and Sensometrics in the U.S. and overseas. She is also writing a book on Wine Sensory evaluation.[8]


Select published work[edit]

This is an incomplete list


  1. ^ a b c J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 35-36 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 978-0-19-860990-2
  2. ^ a b c L. Alley "Wine Sensory Scientist Ann Noble Retires From UC Davis" Wine Spectator, August 21st, 2002.
  3. ^ a b c d San Francisco Chronicle "Ann Noble bio" Wine Judge: Accessed Dec. 16th, 2007 Archived 4 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Congressional Record". Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  5. ^ WiningWays (2011-05-16). "Wine Aroma Wheel". WiningWays. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  6. ^ " Das Wein-Aromarad". Archived from the original on 4 March 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2007.
  7. ^ Owen Bird, Rheingold - The German Wine Renaissance, Arima Publishing 2005, pp. 90-97 ISBN 978-1-84549-079-9
  8. ^ "Ann C. Noble | Viticulture & Enology". Archived from the original on 2016-05-05. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  9. ^ "Top 50 most powerful women in wine: 50 – 41". Retrieved 2016-04-05.

External links[edit]