Hildegarde Heymann is an enologist and professor in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology.
She earned a Ph.D in agricultural and environmental chemistry at Davis, and her masters in food science at Davis.
She joined the Viticulture and Enology department in January 2003 and formerly taught at the University of Missouri. One of her specialties is food-wine interactions and wine tasting, or, as her university homepage puts it: working with most of her Viticulture and Enology colleagues on the sensory evaluation of grapes and wines.
She teaches the popular wine tasting class, VEN 125.
In 1991 and in 1993, she was awarded Professor of the Year from the Food Science Association.
In January 2006, Heymann, along with Bernice Madrigal-Galan, supervised a study observing how eating cheese can affect the taste of wine. The study involved 11 volunteers comprised of students and staff who were instructed on how to taste wine. They were then given eight (seven of which were Californian) red wines of varying quality to evaluate on the basis of flavor and aroma intensity. The volunteers were then given eight different cheeses to pair with the wines, and re-evaluated the wines.
The tasters found that eating cheese dulled the wines flavors and aromas, save for one aspect: the buttery aroma of the wines was more pronounced. In essence, the study debunked the idea that cheese improves the taste of red wine.
The study gained worldwide attention prior to its publishing when New Scientist said the study found that eating cheese made it harder to tell if a wine was cheap or expensive. Au contraire, Heymann told Slate magazine: though cheap and expensive wines had less intense flavors, tasters could still tell them apart.
In the Slate article, Heymann blasted New Scientist, saying: If they have trouble with something this straightforward, what are they doing on stem cells?
The cheeses used were Emmental, Gruyere, mozzarella, Teleme, Stilton, Gorgonzola, New York cheddar, and Vermont cheddar.