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To Smell or Not to Smell

September 27, 2012

I may often paint my fellow Noblers as booze-fiending, loyal followers of the experiment but…Well that’s true. However, some of them can write…

Why do we smell wine?  It’s a question so many people have, yet are often too embarrassed to ask.  It’s amazing that no other beverage releases as much anxiety around its enjoyment as wine does, and the reality is that the practices we go through, like smelling the wine, just help us enjoy it more, not make us better or worse than those who don’t smell a particular “scent”. Seriously, if someone actually judges you because you say you smell a certain something in the wine that they think is incorrect, take their glass out of their hand and dump it on their head.  Wine should not be pretentious, and if people must revert to childlike actions such as making others feel inferior, they are clearly not mature enough to be drinking in the first place. The fact of the matter is, you will only smell what you know, and each person has their own repertoire of “smell memories” to pull from, so naturally each person’s experience with smell will vary. 

When wine is first poured into your glass, the first thing you should do is swirl the liquid around a bit.  Swirling the liquid allows the wine to come in contact with oxygen and “opens it up,” therefore allowing many of the aromas to be released.  After you swirl the wine, stick your nose into that glass. Just close your eyes and sniff.  When you smell, think about what you are smelling: Do you smell tropical fruits, dark plums, cherries and strawberries or do you notice smells that would be more at home in a barnyard?  What you smell offers your brain a preview of what you’re about to taste, and actually helps you enjoy the wine more. For additional proof, take a sip of the wine while plugging your nose, and then take a sip of the wine normally.  Notice how different the experience is?

So, while smelling a wine can look snobby, it’s actually an integral part of your overall wine experience.

– Adam

 
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2 comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Scent is the closest sense tied to memory. If you’ve never experienced the smell of passion fruit before, there is no way you are able identify it. Your mind needs to paint a picture of what that scent is, and if there is no original copy of the picture, it’s impossible to recreate.
    Out with the pretentious, in with the true appreciators!


  2. “Seriously, if someone actually judges you because you say you smell a certain something in the wine that they think is incorrect, take their glass out of their hand and dump it on their head. ”

    Sounds like this hits close to home. Suffer a traumatic wine tasting experience? A Bushwick winery perhaps?



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