13 April 2011
Posted in The Science of Wine
Smell is our strongest sense and in wine tasting this becomes dominant. The smell can change the whole experience. It is crucial to know what to look for when you smell a good wine and the technique required to do so. Smell is an uncontrollable sense so it is only natural that this can change the taste of anything including wine. Each grape variety has its own distinct smell characteristics. One can also pick up some of the winemakers techniques when they know what they are looking for. For example, if a Chardonnay is fermented using oak chips to add more flavoring, the smell is quite different from a Chardonnay without oak additives.
Smell is something that occurs without training but with a little bit of attention to details one can learn how to master the art of smelling. Before smelling, it is crucial to swirl the glass of wine. This will allow the smells to open up and become more distinct. Try smelling the wine before swirling and try to notice the difference. When you have learned how to smell using these basic techniques you will begin to pick up on the subtle and strong differences between the wine varieties.
Want to see for yourself how much smell effects taste? Try the jelly bean experiment. Take a jelly bean without knowing the color. Plug your nose then put the jelly bean in your mouth. You will be able to tell that it is sweet and know the texture but not much more than that. Then unplug your nose. Did you notice the change in flavor? Now you should be able to tell what flavor the jelly bean is without a doubt. Surprised how much smell goes into the tastes. Now you might see why it is so important to smell the wine before tasting to get the full experience of what you are enjoying.