Language does not explain the wine-specific memory advantage of wine experts


Although people are poor at naming odors, naming a smell helps to remember that odor. Previous studies show wine experts have better memory for smells, and they also name smells differently than novices. Is wine experts’ odor memory is verbally mediated? And is the odor memory advantage that experts have over novices restricted to odors in their domain of expertise, or does it generalize? Twenty-four wine experts and 24 novices smelled wines, wine-related odors and common odors, and remembered these. Half the participants also named the smells. Wine experts had better memory for wines, but not for the other odors, indicating their memory advantage is restricted to wine. Wine experts named odors better than novices, but there was no relationship between experts’ ability to name odors and their memory for odors. This suggests experts’ odor memory advantage is not linguistically mediated, but may be the result of differential perceptual learning.

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