Monday, February 9, 2015

Wine Tip of the Week - Train your Palate and your Nose

A part of wine that I find fascinating is how a glass of fermented grape juice can have aromas of so many different things - including fruit, vegetables, dirt, rocks, leather, wood, cow manure, cat pee, petrol, bandaids, raw bacon, spices... and on and on.  While not all the aromas translate into the flavor of the wine - the flavor will still have characteristics of fruits, spices, etc.

It is certainly enough for a wine drinker just to check that there are no problematic aromas - such as a wet cardboard aroma that comes with "corked" wine, or problematic tastes such as oxidized/vinegar tastes. But if you are like me, you may find it enjoyable and extremely challenging to identify what a wine smells like - especially when there are multiple aromas (e.g. fruit, spices, wood, herbs) in play in your glass of wine - as well as what it tastes like.

When I first started trying to identify aromas,  I found out quickly how much I relied on sight along with smell. I would smell something that I new I recognized, but had trouble saying exactly what it was. It is interesting how the smell of a lemon, is different from a lemon rind, and may start to smell stronger like grapefruit at some point.
Now I take time to close my eyes and smell things that may show up in a wine blueberries, green peppers, spices, leather, (not so much the manure or cat pee) etc. in order to remember smells to identify in a wine. I even bought one of those kits with all sorts of bottles of different smells (Le Nez du Vin) - and have spent many hours trying to train my schnoz to identify as many different aroma components as I possible can.
My tip for this week is actually a shout-out to Wine Library TV - although these videos are no longer being made, I have found Gary Vaynerchuk's enthusiasm to be contagious, and his wine knowledge to be very impressive. In this video, Gary V shows how you can have some fun training your palate to identify flavors - by tasting the real thing. Gary focuses mostly on flavor - but if you make a trip to the grocery store to stock up for this exercise - what not give everything a good smell as well?

The first 2 & 1/2 minutes or so is video from a fan to kick things off - but skip past it or just be patient, the good stuff with Gary V is there!



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