beta-Damascenone, a C-13 norisoprenoid compound, is usually presented as an impact odorant in red wines. Its direct contribution to their aroma was investigated. Both free beta-damascenone and beta-damascenone precursors were isolated from various French red wines and then analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, revealing concentrations in the vicinity of 1 and 2 microg/L for free compounds and both forms, respectively. Gas chromatography-olfactometry analyses were also performed on dilutions of both red wine extracts and pure beta-damascenone. The very low detection threshold in olfactometry for this compound explains why it is found at the highest dilution factor in aroma extract dilution analysis methods. Moreover, determination of beta-damascenone's odor thresholds confirmed the huge importance of the matrix: beta-Damascenone is characterized by a very low perception threshold in hydroalcoholic solution as compared to red wine, where it is over 1000-fold higher. In hydroalcoholic solution, beta-damascenone enhanced fruity notes of ethyl cinnamate and caproate and masked the herbaceous aroma of IBMP. Globally, these results suggested that beta-damascenone has more an indirect than a direct impact on red wine aroma.