Sensory Glossary

Expressions linked to sensory analysis of odor, taste, and vision


It corresponds to the perception that remains in the mouth and throat after swallowing the product


Lack or loss of the ability to perceive taste

Analytical tests

Discriminative and descriptive tests conducted by trained sensory panels


Lack of olfaction, or a loss of the ability to smell


Organoleptic feature that can be perceived by the olfactory organ, by retronasal way during tasting


Bitterness is the most sensitive of the tastes. Common bitter foods and beverages include coffee, unsweetened cocoa, mate, marmalade, beer, citrus peel, etc. Among the most known bitter substances are caffeine and quinine.


Color space that includes all perceivable color, with dimension L for lightness and a and b for the color-opponent dimensions

Color or Colour

Visual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, blue, yellow, green and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors. Color categories and physical specifications of color are also associated with objects, materials, light sources, etc., based on their physical properties such as light absorption, reflection, or emission spectra. By defining a color space, colors can be identified numerically by their coordinates


Science and technology used to quantify and describe physically the human color perception

Descriptive tests

Evaluation of the importance of differences between various products

Discriminative tests

Evaluation consisting of determining very small differences between various products

Discriminant Factorial Analysis (DFA)

Data processing aiming for optimal separation of by maximizing inter-group distances and minimizing intra-group variability. This model is used to identify unknown samples into one of the training groups.

Electronic Nose

An electronic nose is a device intended to detect odors or flavors. It working principle mimics human olfaction that functions as a non-separative mechanism: i.e. an odor / flavor is perceived as a global fingerprint

Electronic Tongue

An electronic tongue is an instrument that measures and compares tastes. Using liquid sensor technology, the electronic tongue measure the global taste fingerprint of a product, as human tongue does


Combination of taste and aroma features


Sweet or delicate odor

Gustation or Gustatory perception

Also called taste, it corresponds to the sensation produced when a substance in the mouth reacts chemically with receptors of taste buds. Taste, along with smell (olfaction) and trigeminal nerve stimulation (which also handles touch for texture, also pain, and temperature), determines flavors, the sensory impressions of food or other substances


Relative to pleasant or unpleasant feature. Hedonic tests, aimed at measuring the pleasant or unpleasant features of a product (affective assessment) are conducted by human sensory panels.


Capture, storage, manipulation, and display of images

Machine vision

Technology and methods used to provide imaging-based automatic inspection and analysis for such applications as automatic inspection, process control, and robot guidance in industry


Conscious reaction to a chemical stimulus of the olfactory sense

Off odor

Undesirable odor perceived by the nose coming from a variety of possible sources

Off taste

Unwanted taste imparted by spoilage or contamination

Olfaction or Olfactory perception

Sense of smell mediated by specialized sensory cells of the nasal cavity. In humans, olfaction occurs when odorant molecules bind to specific sites on the olfactory receptors


Qualifies the property of a product that can be perceived by human senses

Organoleptic testing

Analysis of the properties of products and materials by means of the senses. Organoleptic testing is usually done by panelists and in this case is to a certain extent subjective, since perceptions among different persons as well as in a single person vary, depending on the state of the body. Organoleptic testing can also be achieved by electronic sensing instruments such as electronic nose, electronic tongue or visual analyzer.


Quality and pleasantness of the sensory attributes of a product that make it acceptable or agreeable to a consumer

Partial Least Square (PLS)

This quantification model aimed at predicting numerical values is obtained by correlating instrumental measurement with quantitative sample characteristics (substance concentration, descriptor intensity...).

Principal Component Analysis (PCA)

Mapping of the multi-measurements of all samples on 2-dimension or 3-dimension graph that best highlights differences between samples. This model is used to explore the data and to assess discrimination performance.

Retro-nasal olfaction

Odorant perception that goes up to the nasal holes after swallowing the product. This effect contributes to the taste of products for a 80% part.


RGB color model is a color model in which the additive primary colors red, green, and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors


Saltiness is a taste produced primarily by the presence of sodium ions (e.g. NaCl). Other ions of the alkali metals group also taste salty, but the further from sodium the less salty the sensation is such as NH4Cl, CaCl2, LiCl, KCl.

Sensory evaluation

Also referred as sensory analysis, this is a scientific discipline that applies principles of experimental design and statistical analysis to the use of human senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing) for the purposes of evaluating consumer products

Sensory panel

Group of persons that evaluate products by means of sense organs. There exist 2 types of panels: consumer panel and expert panel


Characteristic surface configuration of an object

Shelf Life Model

Mapping of the evolution of odor/taste/visual profile of products over time, as a distance to the fresh product at initial time


Organoleptic feature perceived by olfactory organ when sniffing some volatile substances (molecular mass < 400)

Soft Independent Modeling by Class Analogy (SIMCA)

This model is used to compare unknown samples to a reference. The model is built by taking into account one group considered as the "gold reference". The model is going to identify unknown samples as belonging or not belonging to the one and only group previously defined.


Sourness is the taste that detects acidity. Sour taste is detected by a small subset of cells that are distributed across all taste buds in the tongue. Acetic acid, Citric acid, HCl, Malic acid, Tartaric acid are typical sour substances

Statistical Quality Control (SQC)

Model for statistical monitoring of product quality within an area of acceptable variability of this quality


Sweetness is one of the five basic tastes and is almost universally regarded as a pleasurable experience. Sugars are the substances the most commonly associated with sweetness, but other compounds also bring sweetness: Aspartame, Fructose, Glucose, Glycine, Saccharine Na, Sucrose


Sensations perceived by gustative organs (taste buds) when stimulated by some soluble substances

Trigeminal sense

Corresponds to sensations perceived in the mouth or in the nose but not by taste buds or olfactory cells. These sensations gather tactile, thermal, painful and kinaesthesic sensations.


Pleasant savory taste among the 5 basic tastes. The human tongue has receptors for L-glutamate, which is a source of umami flavor, as L-arginine, L-glutamine.


Human perception with the eyes

Visual inspection

Common method of quality control, data acquisition, and data analysis using either human senses such as vision, hearing, touch and smell and/or an inspection equipment

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

Organic chemicals that have a high vapour pressure (low boiling point) at room-temperature conditions. They include both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds and are always composed of carbon and other elements such as hydrogen, halogens, oxygen, sulfur. Some VOC are odorant, some are are dangerous to human health.