Identifying wine aromas is difficult - WineUncorked: Wine Reviews and Tips

Pretending to be Jilly Goolden while swirling and sniffing the contents of each wine glass is half the fun of wine appreciation. But sometimes, I admit it, I need help identifying a wine’s aromas. Just because someone tells you they smell and taste wines for a living it doesn’t make their judgement infallible.

At a South African wine competition the judge (a Master of Wine by the way, a qualification shared with only 394 other wine professionals) rated the majority of the entered Shiraz wines as having “no sense of smell whatever.” Clearly something was up with the ’highly trained’ nostrils because fellow judges overturned the results.

Maybe the tempting Shiraz aromas of plum, blackberry, dark chocolate, raspberry and black pepper couldn’t penetrate through a nose blocked with a South African cold? Or perhaps the judge just hadn't sniffed each spoonful of his last blackberry and plum crumble or analysed each square of Lindt 70 per cent cocoa chocolate as it passed beneath his nose?

Because that's how you'll find and add aromas to your memory. Sniff and remember everything, that's what I do (and many odd looks it's got me). Not just food either. It's true many wines do smell rather like fruit or cake but they can also smell like the inside of a garden shed or that pair of smelly trainers kicked under the sofa.

The more smells you lodge into your personal aroma memory bank, the easier it is to identify and put words to that huge array of aromas wafting out of each glass of wine.

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About WineUncorked and its editor, Paula Goddard Read more