With our wine-tasting event, Around the World in 80 Sips, coming up and our discussion of wine tasting etiquette out of the way, we thought it was the perfect time to continue talking about the 5 S’s of wine tasting.
See. Swirl. Smell. Sip. Savor
We’ve already covered See and Swirl but here’s a quick refresher before we move on to Smell.
Seeing the wine in your glass can be a tip-off that it may be bad but it helps your brain anticipate the varietal you’re about to taste.
Swirling your wine lets the oxygen in so all those fabulous aromas are set free.
And once you “see and swirl,” its time to actually stick your nose in that glass and smell it.
Two seconds of science: The olfactory bulb, which is behind your nose, under your brain, takes everything you smell and sends it to your brain.
And that helps determine how things taste.
Hold your nose and then eat or drink something. It’ll taste like nothing.
You need your nose.
And to help your nose and further enhance the scents of your wine, Kevin Zraly, one of the world’s greatest wine teachers and founder of the 41-year- old Windows on the World Wine School, even suggests you swirl with your hand over the top of your glass. That will trap those fragrances (Caution: that’s a lot like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time).
But then when you lift your hand and take a huge whiff, those aromas should be intensified.
So what do you smell?
To start, if the wine smells like dirty socks, its probably likely no good.
If not, make it simple. Do you smell fruits? Or flowers? Or something else?
And you might not know at first. Learning how to smell is a skill you can hone in on.
Just walk around your house and start smelling things.
Everyone seems to have a vanilla candle these days. Smell it every time you pass it.
Or start smelling your fruits. Cut them open, hold them up to your nose and take a big whiff. From your citrus to your berries.
For instance, that blackberries smell? You will start to recognize it the next time you stick your nose in a glass of Merlot.
Or pull out some spices. Anise. Nutmeg. Oregano. Black pepper. Start recognizing those scents.
Cut up a green pepper. Smell it. Your brain will remember that smell and the next time you pick up a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Lots of people talk about the “minerality” in wine. Stand on the sidewalk in the rain and smell it. Actually get down on your hands and knees and smell the sidewalk. Or lick a rock – seriously -- same thing.
You’ll recognize that minerality scent the next time you have a Chablis or a Red Burgundy.
If you really want to practice, you can buy an aroma kit. Le Nez Du Vin is one of the best out there, though it’s expensive at $400. But it comes with a 54 little vials of essence that cover everything from lavender to leather and can help train your nose.
Because once your nose recognizes what it’s smelling, your brain will get even more excited about what you’re about to taste.
So it will make that sip so much more intense. Which is why we will discuss “Sipping and Savoring” next.
Tracy Byrnes, former FOX Business Network anchor and host of “Wine with Me” for Foxnews.com, is editor-in-chief and chief contributor of The Sip.