How to Smell Wine


Wine Tasting - it’s a thing that you have likely seen sophisticated people do on television and movies. A moustachioed man will sit in the sunlight of a bright vineyard chateau and swill some wine, he’ll then hold it up to the light and sip upon it thoughtfully. 

Well, I’m here to tell you exactly how to taste wine properly yourself - you will be able to look like an absolute don when at a friend’s soiree, and more importantly, enhance your wine drinking experience. 

The beginner’s wine tasting will teach you the most foremost important parts of tasting wine.

Step 1: Separating objective view from personal views but using both of them to conclude your observation. 

Start with the smell

You need to understand that 50% of taste comes from the smell - you can get a large amount of satisfaction from smelling a wine before you taste it To release the aroma you should first swirl the wine around in your glass. Aromas can range from light and elegant, to strong and rich. Get to grips with these and you will be taught a basic understanding of wine. If you don't have access to quality wine, you can search for wine online.


Your nose can help you learn all about the wine’s condition, on top of the faults that it can hold. Here are a few examples:

Reduction: this is the smell that could be described as similar to rotten eggs or boiled cabbage, which indicates this particular wine production technique. Lower levels of reduction can be described as minerality or stony, and offer some great complex fruit flavour as well as character. Higher levels are rather unpleasant and can result in that aforementioned stinky smell.

Oxidation: This is the opposite to reduction, the wine, in this case, will be browner in colour, it offers an aroma akin or toffee, caramel or even honey. This fault here could be in that higher levels of dissolved oxygen are reducing the fruit flavour.

TCA (Cork taint): A taint can be found in this that reminds some of the damp cardboard, it can reduce the fruit levels and freshness, low levels are hard to detect, high levels, on the other hand, mean that wine has become tainted by the cork or could be related to a problem in the winery.


Now for the good stuff - aromas. We break these into three different categories.

Primary - This is your dominant aroma, the one which will help to tell one group from another.

Secondary - The aromas that are the background flavours, these don't come from the grape, but the process of making the wine itself. Oak is a prominent secondary flavour, and depending on the type of oak that is used, the aroma could include coconut, vanilla, tobacco, leather and cedar. In the case that the wine has gone through malolactic fermentation, we can gain buttery and nutty flavours. If a wine has been made through lees contact, flavours of yeast, cream or biscuit are more pronounced.

Tertiary - Aromas such as these come from the ageing process. If the wine was oxidised for a long time in oaken barrels then its likely that aromas of coffee, toffee or chocolate are present. Secondary notes like coconut might be found from the barrel itself.


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