August 27, 2008

Wine 101: Smell

Remember in 10th grade chemistry class the teacher sang that jingle, "If you want to smell an odor waft it to you *clap clap*!" Ok, whether you do or don't is a separate story, but we're going to use that as a guide to smelling our wines. 

In fact, the most important part of assessing your wine is achieved through your nose.  By swirling around your glass, you'll release the esters and aiderhyde in the wine (for beginner noses, we are referring to the wine's aroma). Releasing these entities will make it easier to detect the overall bouquet of the wine. When the scent is released it will help you determine fruit and spice characteristics. For more advanced noses, you may also be able to detect the origin, climate, vinification and vintage of the wine. 

When you hear real winos describing their wines, they often relate it to fruits. That's because 

What's aroma? The correct smells identified in wine may be similar to that of fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, spices, earth, minerals, tar, oak, leather, honey, caramel, etc. Winos use these terms becausewine consists of over 300 different chemical compounds, many of which are similar to those found in fruits, veggies, herbs, spices, etc. 

Now it's time for "homework" (this is the homework I would have got an A+ on when I was in school)... Next time you're enjoying a glass of wine, make sure you follow these steps:

1) Use your pointer and middle finger at the stem of the glass to swirl your wine around.
2) Dip your nose into the wine glass and take a deep breath in paying attention to all the scents. Make sure your wine smells clean or "like wine." If you smell something off-color, there could be a "fault" with your glass/bottle, in which case don't proceed.
3) Take a sip of the wine and swirl in your mouth, similar to like you would with Listerine. Let the wine cover your tongue and cheeks.
4) With the wine still in your mouth, breathe in a tad bit of air (we'll get into this in a later post).
5) Swallow and enjoy.

What did you taste? Jot it down if you need to. By taking the time to explore your wine, particularly it's smell, you'll get a better feel for personality of your glass.