TTT&T: Do You Smell Something Besides Wine?

Smelling  wine can sometimes be the hardest part for people who are just getting into wine because the immediate reaction is often that the wine doesn’t smell like anything…except wine.  Trust me, I completely understand the feeling.  However, often, there are other characteristics, and you can teach yourself to identify those scents, even if it’s just a handful, fairly easily.  It’s all about training your sensory perception. 

For me, training my sense of smell is a constant work in progress.  My kitchen counter is filled with spice bottles that I smell at least twice a day (pic to come).  I will occasionally ask Hubby to blind test me, which always is a lot of fun, even though I sometimes confuse my smells.  However, by practicing, I’ve really been to able improve sense of smell, which has translated into a drastic change in my ability to differentiate smells in wine. 

If you’re interested in seeing if you can do this, or even if you already can pick out smells but could improve your skills (can you tell the difference between anise and fennel or do you just smell licorice?), start small.  Pick something that you often read about being in wine—cherries, vanilla, limes, butter—but haven’t been able to identify on your own.  Smell it or eat it…and do this slowly and deliberately.  I close my eyes because it helps me focus.  The key is to really think about what you’re smelling.  If possible, do this twice a day for a week.  Really familiarize yourself with the smell. 

After you’ve committed the smell to memory, grab a glass of wine that you saw “smelled like cherries” or  “bursts with lime,” whatever smell it is that you’ve been studying.   Don’t pick something that only “hints” of the smell, unless you’re ready for a big challenge.  Once you have your wine, swirl your glass, place your nose close to the glass (or sometimes even inside the glass), and inhale deeply.  Do you recognize the smell you were working with?  If not, swirl your wine and try again.  Still not picking out the smell?  Try taking a whiff of whatever you’ve been practicing with.  Let you nose clear for a moment.  Then, sniff the wine.  What about now?  If not, don’t despair.  Just keep trying.  This is all about practice.    

Next week, I’ll actually talk about what you can tell from wine aromas, so hang tight and in the meantime, keep sniffing.

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