Scott Carney is handed a glass of wine at a party. Because he’s a Master Sommelier and dean of wine studies at International Culinary Center, all eyes look toward him as the expert. He’s already taken Step 1--a good look--and Step 2, swirled and “nosed” the wine. Now comes the moment to taste.
The human nose can discern as many as 10,000 different smells; alas, not nearly as many tastes. It was long thought there were four: sweetness; sourness, or acidity; saltiness and bitterness. Of late, two more have been added: umami (related to savory glutamates) and kokumi (compounds including calcium).
Scott inhales and takes a sip. The liquid spreads across his palate and the “slurp” is heard as he pulls oxygen into his mouth, mixing the liquid and maximizing effect. He swallows and–importantly--exhales through the nose, transmitting the information of smell and taste–flavor–through his retro-nasal cavity, closer to his olfactory bulb and brain.
The taste analysis echoes that of smell, confirming fruit types, notes of flower, spice, herbs, wood aging and notes of “terroir.” Evaluation of the wine’s structure follows: dryness, acidity, alcohol, tannins–and overall quality, texture, balance and persistence of flavor.
He likes this wine; it could be a moderately priced Pinot Noir from Burgundy, France. Others in the crowd are not as enthusiastic. And so, with these few tips on sight, smell and taste, jump on your learning curve, and enjoy the personal ride!