Honours Research: Getting a Taste of Nova Scotia Wines with Lydia Hayward

by Theodore Giesen

Theodore Giesen is a summer co-op student in the Research Office, and an undergraduate English student here at Acadia. Over the summer, Theodore has been interviewing Acadia students and faculty about their recent research activities and writing up his findings in profiles for the website. We'll be sharing profiles like this one in the coming weeks - check back for more stories of research at Acadia!

Lydia Hayward

Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley attracts people from all over the world to sample its diverse and unique wines. With so many varieties, it can be hard to distinguish the specific tastes that make each wine so special. To aid in the wine-tasting experience, Nutrition & Dietetics Honours student Lydia Hayward is creating a consumer lexicon that will describe different sensory aspects of sparkling and rosé wines. Her work will contribute to a Nova Scotia “wine wheel,” which will also feature work completed by previous Honours students. The complete wheel will be available to consumers to help them choose a wine that best suits their needs and preferences. Hayward is also conducting studies to determine whether a person’s sensory perspective of wine is influenced by adding nutrition labels to wine bottles.

Though she has found a field she can thrive in, Hayward’s path was an indirect one. “I never really thought I would go into sensory [research]. I kind of had the idea of being a dietitian, but you have to take sensory classes when you do Nutrition and Dietetics,” Hayward explains. “I first worked on a project with a local brewery… to see if we could develop a new craft beer and doing that got me really excited.” From there, she took off under the wing of her supervisor, Dr. Matt McSweeney (Nutrition & Dietetics), who encouraged her involvement in the research she’s now completing for her Honours thesis.

Over the summer of 2018, Hayward will coordinate several wine sensory trials where participants will try various wines, describe their flavours, rate them, and group together wines with similar tastes. Separate studies will be done to see if nutrition labels have any influence on how someone perceives the taste of a wine. Hayward hopes that her research will change and further the fast-growing wine industry.

Hayward has just begun her research, but she has already reaped many benefits from the experience. Getting involved in the wine industry has opened her eyes to jobs she didn't know existed and showed her opportunities to take her learning to a higher level. Hayward is very excited to continue her work and says she is benefitting from transferable skills she has picked up from writing an Honours thesis, such as time management and effective writing skills. 

She is also still active with her craft beer project and plans to submit her research for publication after successfully presenting at the Canadian Institute of Food Science & Technology (CIFST) conference in Niagara this past spring. Hayward expects to submit a manuscript for publication on her independent research to the International Journal of Food Science and plans to publish the work she does for her thesis in a year or so. Once Hayward’s Honours research is complete, there will be more research to do on the sensory aspects of wine regarding nutrition labels before she publishes further.

Look forward to seeing all Honours theses in the Library or available online once completed!

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