This article helps spread the word of our social missions "Smell Mission" and "Taste Mission" by sharing info on how to enjoy the aromas and flavours of wine and encourage more smelling and more tasting of everything in gerenal!
Taste and aroma are two of the greatest human senses that we have. For me, learning about how to taste, smell and enjoy wine has been a self-testing and colourful experience for the olfactory and gustatory system. There are things you learn about these human systems that you wouldn't think you could expand upon. In particular, the ability to distinguish or differentiate between certain flavours and smells ranging from red fruits, black fruits, tropical fruits, herbs, spices, savoury foods, components of the earth etc, all coming essentially from the raw ingredient of grape juice!
The main steps for wine tasting for the everyday person is as follows (you can skip to sections of the article by pressing on the below headings):
You have no doubt seen people swirling wine in there glass. Why do they do that? There are two reasons:
Swirling the glass disturbs and moves around the aroma molecules from the wine and thus emits them up and out of the glass ready for you to sniff. Next time, smell a wine without swirling it, then give it a swirl and smell again. You will notice an increase in intensity of the scents and thus be able to gauge a better insight into picking up on different types of aromas emanating from the wine.
Aeration is often required for wines that have just been opened, whether it be screw cap or cork. You have to think, the wine has been locked and sealed under the same conditions every since it was originally bottled. When you finally open up a bottle of wine, you are introducing it to an atmosphere it has not been accustomed to and it “breathes”. While it breathes, the wine interacts with the new air and acclimatised to reach an equilibrium ideal for drinking. However it is important to note that if a wine breathes too long before drinking, it becomes too oxidised and moves along the scale towards vinegar (at it’s most extreme form of oxidation), gradually reducing the appealing components of its aromas and flavours.
Generally speaking, most un-aged white wines do not require much aeration and most swirling will be to increase the intensity of the aroma compounds emanating from the glass. While most young reds generally benefit from 15-30 minutes. Most aged whites will benefit from 15-30 minutes while more intense and/or aged red wines will benefit from 30-60 minutes of aeration/decanting and often change completely in aroma and taste after this time period.
There are 2 typical ways to swirl a glass:
There is no benefit or difference between the two methods, just personal preference at the time of swirling.
My favourite part! This is where you first get intimate with the wine and step into the wines world. You instantly get an aromatic signature of the wine, its own person mark of what it is about. A common term for explaining what you smell is to say “on the nose”, for example; on the nose I get black cherries, fresh black plums, dried herbs and cedar.
Now there are SO many types of aromas that are often found in wines. Some are fruits, some are vegetables, some are items that are not edible such as wood, dirt, leaves, smoke and gravel. The list goes on!
Now let's get into some detail! Aromas are categorised in the following groups (included but not limited to):
Even though wine is made from grapes, the chemical reactions including maceration and fermentation, change the compounds of the wine and result in flavours of all sorts of fruit.
Main fruit categories are:
Yes believe it or not, there are wines that typically smell like lychees and some like passionfruit! You then have different types of these fruits which can be detected from the scents:
Other flavour categories (including but not limited to), are:
For one of the best wine aroma wheels I’ve ever seen, check out Wine Folly’s article http://winefolly.com/tutorial/wine-aroma-wheel-100-flavors/. Having something like this to reference will greatly help you identify what you are smelling. I always have something like this next to me when tasting wines. It will speed up your learning process and help associate and label smells far quicker than doing it without assistance.
Here you will find the specific aromas and flavours that are common in wine. As you can see there are a lot of them. But it is important to understand them by their categories so it helps to identify these specifics when wine tasting. It is common to smell a wine and get a "vibe" or a general "feeling" of the wine first, then you can find out what it is specifically that gives you that feeling. For example a wine can be earthy upon first sniff, then you realise that is comparable to a forest floor (with all the dirt, rocks, leaves and bioligical components that can be found there).
The best way that I have been able to grasp what flavours and aromas i'm dealing with in a wine is to have a tree diagram like method approach to identifying characteristics. First up i determine the fruit aromas from the wine. The next thing which is often overlooked, is HOW the fruit is. How do you describe it? For example you can smell red plums, but does it smell like it would be a hard, crunchy under ripe red plum or would it be a soft, juicy, ripe red plum? See below for the infographic.
Onto wine tasting. This is where you find most of the quality components of a wine and is the so called “structure” of the wine. They include:
That concludes the epic journey of wine tasting for the for the everyday person! If you liked the post, give it a share with the social media link buttons below!
Also check out some of our aromatic and tasty popular wines below to start your wine tasting experience!