A wine’s real charm can be found in its scent. Here you can discern a wine’s primary and secondary aromas. All those frou-frou descriptions about scents of huckleberries and roses? That’s how we detect many of them. Smelling offers a preview of what you might taste, not just then, but also if you let the wine sit for a while and open up.
Indeed, smell and taste have been intricately linked in the brain, and much of the taste of wine (or food) is lost without the smell. Don’t believe me? Try holding your nose and swishing some wine in your mouth. Then try it without holding your nose. See the difference.
Scent also helps detect if a wine is spoiled. If you’re smelling damp cardboard or gym socks, there may be cork taint, the presence of a destructive little compound called trichloroanisole (TCA). That’s what we mean when we say a wine is “corked.”
When you go to smell the wine, stick your nose all the way into the glass and close your eyes — sure you might feel silly doing it, but you’re going to notice a lot more smells this way — then breathe in deep.
As you smell the wine, think about what scents you’re picking up, and keep in mind that there are no wrong answers! If it’s a white wine, maybe you smell bananas, lemon rind, pineapple or even that scent that is always in the air when you go to the beach.
If it’s a red wine, you may smell prunes, cherries, strawberries, peppers, plums or tobacco. In both situations, you may say you just smell grapes, and that is totally fine too. Your brain can only pick up scents that are in your memory, meaning they are scents you’ve smelled before or smell often. That’s why ten people could be sitting around a table smelling the same wine and say they smell ten different things!
So, let’s say you are holding a glass Noble Hill Viognier, a premium white wine, the nose of the wine reveals Fresh floral aromas, a complex, focused palate of peaches, pears and complimenting oak.
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