“What does that glass of wine smell like?”
One of the most important tools for wine tasting is your nose!
Tongue and Aroma
What you inhale has a huge impact on what you can taste. To test this out, try holding your nose and putting a few drops of lemon juice on your tongue. You’ll experience the sensation of sourness - or acidity in wine terms.
When you first start smelling wine, think big to small. Are there fruits? Think of broad categories first, i.e. citrus, orchard, or tropical fruits in whites or, when tasting reds, red fruits, blue fruits, or black fruits. Getting too specific or looking for one particular note can lead to frustration. Broadly, you can divide the nose of a wine into three primary categories:
- Primary Aromas are grape-derivative and include fruits, herbs, and floral notes.
- Secondary Aromas come from winemaking practices. The most common aromas are yeast-derivative and are most easy to spot in white wines: cheese rind, nut husk (almond, peanut), or stale beer.
- Tertiary Aromas come from aging, usually in bottle, or possibly in oak. These aromas are mostly savory: roasted nuts, baking spices, vanilla, autumn leaves, old tobacco, cured leather, cedar, and even coconut.