Wine ‘nose’ tips

Smell is very important to the wine taster as much of what we think is taste really comes through our noses. If you don’t believe it, try to enjoy a wine – or a meal – the next time you have a bad head cold.

When it comes to smelling, we take a distant second place to dogs and cats. Still, we humans can train our sense of smell, and you don’t have to be an expert wine taster to learn to sniff out the differences among wines.

The aroma of Cabernet Sauvignon and the closely related Merlot grape, for example, often reminds me of cedar wood and pine needles mingled with a good fruit smell reminiscent of currants.

Some add hints that wine tasters call “vegetal:” green olives, green peppers, tobacco leaves or grass.

Aging the wine in oak may add touches of vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and almonds. Extended bottle aging may lend a toasty quality and impart earthy scents as variable as mushrooms, old leather, roses and wildflowers.

Other grapes have their own trademark aromas: Zinfandel often evokes berries. Pinot Noir, the fine grape of Burgundy, may recall violets and spice. The pungently floral quality of freshly ground black pepper signals Syrah, the French Rhone grape.

Among whites, Chardonnay recalls crisp, ripe apples and may add notes of butter, coconut, figs and other tropical fruits, particularly if it’s aged in oak.

Riesling, the queen of German grapes, may evoke apples, too, and sometimes citrus fruit, canteloupe and pine.

Sauvignon Blanc often shows a grassy smell and sometimes grapefruit.

Chenin Blanc reminds me of melons and, occasionally, orange blossoms. A smell of peaches identifies Muscat and Gewurztraminer; the latter may add elusive spice.

Source: wineloverspage.com

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