Ask a newcomer to wine to stick their nose in the glass, breathe in deeply, and tell you what they smell, and the look you’ll get will resemble that of a deer caught in Matt Lauer’s bicycle path.
Fear. That’s the best way to describe the expression. That’s because rarely in our lives have we ever been asked to think about aromas. We know that a loaf of bread in the oven smells like a loaf of bread, and that a piece of chocolate smells like chocolate. But what does wine smell like?
So we’ve come up with a few questions of our own that you can ask yourself while your nose is in the wine glass. The questions have no wrong answers. Rather, they’re simply intended to make you think about what you’re smelling… or not smelling.
Before long (practice! practice! practice!), you’ll be able to departmentalize the aromas and pick out nuances. Example: Instead of apple as an aroma, you may identify spiced apple, like that found in an apple pie. Ready? Let’s get started…
First, fill your wine glass only about half-way. This gives you plenty of room to swirl the wine in the glass without spilling. Swirling is important because as the wine mixes with air, it “releases” its aromas.
Next, stick your nose deep in the glass, inhale through your nose, and ask these questions:
* Does the wine smell floral or fruity?
* If floral, what kind of flower?
* If fruity, what kind of fruit?
* Is there more than one kind of fruit that you recognize?
* Can you smell smoke or wood? (These are indicators of oak barrel aging.)
* Are there any earth-like aromas, such as mushrooms or green vegetables?
As the answers come to mind, jot them down. Use those notes as a basis of comparison the next time you open a bottle… and you’ll begin to identify your own preferences.