My daughter (bless her heart) did not inherit my wine nose. To her, virtually every wine smells “winey.”
At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who can identify a wine even when they’re blindfolded. The good ones can tell you what type of wine it is. The great ones can tell you that, as well as where it was grown. And a small handful can even identify the winery and the vintage.
But becoming really good at “blind tasting” isn’t nearly as daunting as it may sound. When you get to know some of the common aromas and flavors of various wines, they almost become like old friends you’d recognize instantly.
Here’s a 10-item aroma and flavor “cheat sheet”…
- An impression of pepper is a common characteristic of Zinfandel and Syrah/Shriaz.
- Toast is associated with Chardonnay and Champagne.
- Nutty nuances — such as hazelnuts or walnuts — are common in white Burgundy.
- Peach and apricot notes are found in many bottlings of Pinot Blanc.
- Citrus flavors (lemon and lime) are quite common in Australian Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
- Soft red fruits — strawberry, cherry, red currant — typically equate with Pinot Noir.
- Chocolate is most commonly recognized in full-bodied red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Vanilla is a telltale sign of oak aging, particularly in Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
- Butter is the impression that connects many Chardonnays, no matter where they came from.
- Mint and eucalyptus are common qualities of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Get to know these generalities, and before long, you’ll be ready for the blindfold.