Wine 101 – August 26, 2015: Wine Aroma & The Importance of Smelling Wine

This Week In Wine 101: Wine Aroma & The Importance of Smelling Wine

Have you ever encountered this situation before? You buy a bottle of wine you’ve not had before. After pouring the wine into your glass, you swirl and sniff its bouquets and aromas. You instantly smell a combination of beautiful floral scents mixed with fruity aromas, unlike any scents you’ve ever encountered before. Excited, you take a sip, swish the wine around your mouth and immediately taste (or feel) a sudden sharp or bitter sensation. As quickly as you’ve sipped it, you spit it out! You’re instantly reminded of the spray from a bottle of perfume gone (in your mouth) wrong. You’re left wondering, “What on earth happened?” How come this wine smelled so amazing but tasted so different?

Like many others, you’ve taken a chance, selected an unfamiliar varietal or wine and it ended in an all too familiar way; $10 down the drain. Live and learn, eh? I was prepared for this but was not expecting it to happen. This experience often sparks thought, the first of which is, “Perhaps the wine needed some time to breath or aerate? But, when you try it again, the same flavors that tainted your previous experience were just as bad as you remembered the first time. So what else could it be? The possibility of the bottle being the victim of bottle shock was suggested. But not even bottle shock could explain what you just tasted.

After much thought and debate, I came to this conclusion. When it comes to the aromas and bouquets a wine contains I wouldn’t go so far as to say smell is an important factor in the whole wine tasting experience. I would rather say smell is one of the best introductory steps to sampling a wine. It kind of builds the anticipation of what is to come. Also when we taste a wine we naturally inhale it through our mouth. This may sound strange but it is true. Our senses detect everything and only help to intensify the experience.

Can our senses get it wrong? Of course! We may pick up specific aromas that remind us of an event, a place we visited, a great experience we had, spices we grew up with, and so on and so forth – and usually those scents have a positive influence on how we perceive the wine’s flavors. However, in my case, the floral aromas I had detected completely eclipsed the fruity flavors the wine had. The result, a not so good wine and $12 short. Is there a cause for wines that smell great but taste bad? Not always, sometimes it just comes down to whether your palate agrees or disagrees with a particular wine? And in my case, my palate did not agree with what I tasted. Sometimes, it is simply, just a bad bottle of wine. Period.

So in conclusion, if you ever come across a bottle of wine that smells amazing but does not taste so great, have no remorse. It may be a bad bottle, or your palate may not agree with it. The important thing is to make note of the brand and varietal so you can keep this on your radar to avoid wasting money. Though, do not let this sway you from stepping out of your comfort zone to try new wines. This is all part of the learning process and believe it or not most wine enthusiasts learn this way and find their most treasured wines. Cheers!

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