When blind tasting at The Court of Master Sommelier at the Advanced and Masters level, one’s sense of smell is heavily relied upon to arrive at a good conclusion. With only 4+ minutes allocated to analyze and identify each wine, time must be carefully managed.
Here are this master somm’s fool-proof tips for analyzing what one is smelling:
1) Trust your first impression
On the first sniff after swirling the glass, one gets their best “glimpse” of a wine. Repeated sniffing is an exercise in diminishing return, so focus your faculties for that first impression.
--Non-fruit, i.e floral, spice and herb
--Earthiness or minerality (smell rocks or dirt?)
--Presence/absence of new oak
Smells can come and go like the split-second scene in an action movie trailer: did I just smell what I thought I smelled? With evidence from each category, one can begin to form a reasoned conclusion about what’s in the glass.