Improve Your Ability to Identify Wine Aromas

tasting Lilly Rose at Folded Hills

Do you ever go wine tasting and wonder why everyone smells aromas in wine and you don’t? We’ve all have that friend. “Oh, this is delicious! I’m getting pineapple – but I would say more cooked than fresh, like the crust of an upside-down cake.” So, you just nod and smile while casually looking for the nearest exit.

But, there is no reason to be intimidated. How can you learn to pick up on those specific aromas? Two ways, 1.) Start smelling wine and 2.) Start smelling everything else. In order to identify an aroma in a wine, you need to have a comparison. The reason you may not be picking up on the blackcurrants, wet forest floor, sweaty horse saddle or Catholic church incense is that you may have never smelled or paid attention to those aromas before. You only know, what you know.

how to identify aromas in wine
blind smelling is a great way to improve

From now on, smell everything! The process will really speed up when you smell scents blindly. It will force you to guess the aroma which creates an even stronger connection and memory. Then, as you try to identify notes in wine, start broad and over time, narrow your focus.

For example, berries are a common aroma in red wine. If you can smell and identify berries that is a great start. Now, narrow your focus by asking, what kind of berries? Strawberries? Raspberries? Blackberries? Cherries? Do they smell fresh and tart, or overripe? Or, even cooked like blackberry jam? The same approach can be used to identify and narrow down flowers, herbs, fruits, spices, and wood.

What is the point of it all? Identifying aromas is a direct link to identifying characteristics in wine. Remember that wine can have four or five flavors, but up to 200 aromas. If you smell fresh berries and floral notes it will translate to the taste. It’s also very fun and forever challenging. Like anything in life, a little effort, over time, will go a long way!

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