The Nose Knows

An exWSperienced wine drinker can comment on the wine simply by nosing it. Swirling it around in the glass and allowing its aromas to rise will tell them whether it smells of leather, or wet earth or cut grass. Apricots or peaches. Whether its fruity or floral, mineral or buttery. This in turn helps them to identify the grape.

If you attend a wine tasting and are flummoxed when asked to describe its aroma, make a list of the most common fruits and flowers used to describe various wines  then proceed  to train your nose to sniff them out. But how?

One way is to buy an aroma kit to help you develop your sense of smell. The good ones, however, like Le Nez du Vin are quite expensive. so why not try the following:

Take an inexpensive, neutral bottle of white and red wine. Pinot Grigio is a good choice for the white, and a Merlot will work for the red.

Line up several glasses (one for each aroma) making sure to label each with tape or a sticker. Pour a couple of ounces of wine into each glass and add one of any number of ingredients to each. (See the list below) Let them steep in the wine for an hour. Then remove the solids and start sniffing and comparing.

List of common aromas found in white and red wine:
For White Wine

  • Lemon peel and juice
  • Grapefruit peel and juice
  • Pineapple juice
  • A slice of ripe melon
  • A slice of ripe peach
  • A slice of ripe pear
  • A few blades of grass
  • A teaspoon of honey
  • A drop of vanilla extract
  • Grated nutmeg
  • A chunk of caramel
  • Liquid smoke (to identify oak)

For Red Wine

  • A couple of ripe or frozen strawberries
  • A teaspoon of strawberry jam
  • A couple of ripe cherries
  • Crushed mint
  • A piece of licorice
  • A drop of vanilla extract
  • A pinch of tobacco
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Shaved chocolate or powered cocoa
  • A sprinkle of ground coffee