Ever notice how a passing aroma can automatically bring back vivid memories of experiences long in the past? The sense of smell is the most acute of all our senses and the most easily stimulated. In fact, it’s 1,000 times more sensitive than the sense of taste.
We smell aromas either directly by inhaling through the nose or indirectly by inhaling through the interior nasal passage at the back of the mouth. As a result, what’s called flavor is really 75 percent smell and only 25 percent taste. That’s why when your nose is stuffed up from a cold you can’t taste food.
Appreciating a wine’s aromas is part of the joy of wine. We have restaurateur friends who, despite not drinking wine, have assembled remarkable wine lists. And they’ve done it through their senses of smell.
You’d think recognizing aromas would be automatic, but, believe it or not, it takes practice. The first step is to notice the scents all around you – in your garden, your neighborhood park, a nearby produce stand, your spice cabinet and, yes, even in the horse barn down the street.
When you stick your nose in a wine glass, think of these smells. Your garden: grass, mint, rose, geranium. Your neighborhood park: pine, oak, cedar. The produce stand: cherry, grapefruit, raspberry, asparagus. Your spice cabinet: pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon. The barn? Yes, some people like a little of these horsey aromas in their wine.
It’s certainly not essential that you be able to identify the smells coming from the glass in order to enjoy the wine. It’s just a pleasurable prologue to our favorite part: sipping.
Barbara and Beverly