The Sensory facility at the Department of Viticulture & Oenology at Stellenbosch University is an academic support structure with staff and facilities specialising in the sensory analysis of wine-related and alcoholic/distilled products.

We carry out sensory training for undergraduate students and community partners, and training and research for postgraduate students in grape and wine science. We develop novel sensory methods as tools for the South African wine industry.

The physical facilities consist of two training rooms for sensory panel work and a computerised sensory lab with state-of-the art software for processing of complex sensory data.


Our training offers our undergraduate students a big competitive advantage in the job marketplace, as they are trained in an integrated approach that combines technical and methodological aspects of sensory evaluation with cultivar, style and terroir characteristics of wine. Students who have carried out their postgraduate studies at the facility hold excellent positions as winemakers, sensory advisors and managers in the wine and broader beverage industries. Partner College students (for example, those of the Pinotage Youth Development Academy) also benefit from our excellent training. PYDA students have gone on to excel in tasting rooms and as sommeliers. Courses teaching industry professional to identify wine faults are also facilitated. Courses include wine evaluation for professionals who serve as judges on the Wine and Spirit Board certification panel, as well as courses in wine faults and bespoke courses designed for staff training of retailers.


Research in wine sensory at our facility includes many diverse topics. We have successfully published scientific articles covering a broad spectrum of wine-related areas including consumer aspects, wine aroma compounds, data-mining, drivers of quality in wine, perceived aromatic interactions, yeast and matrix effects, mouthfeel, and investigating chemical and sensory relationships. We specialise in the development of rapid sensory methods and pragmatic approaches to wine evaluation. Where the research necessitates trained panels, we have excellent panels and panel leaders at our disposal. We have powerful statistical tools at our disposal for cutting-edge multivariate data analysis and novel data-visualisation.

Marianne McKay
Jeanne Brand