Flavors in Wine

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Re: Flavors in Wine

Postby Gary Barlettano » Fri Jun 09, 2006 2:01 pm

I, too, am challenged when it comes to describing the wines I taste. And the problem is not so much that my nose doesn't play ball. It is simply that I do not necessarily have a warehouse of olfactory references stored in my memory for easy recall. I try to help myself by consciously experiencing whatever is around me. When I go to the supermarket, I stick my nose into the fruits and veggies. When I'm in the forest, I soak in the smells of the trees and the earth. You get the picture. And, then, when I smell a wine, I hope to recall these experiences and use them to describe what I smell. To be honest, I try to avoid others' descriptions until after I've tried and described the wine myself. You'd be suprised how strong suggestion can be. Such suggestion could lead you astray.

I guess for me it is as simple as my only being able to identify and describe what I know and I've tried to get to know as much as possible. Finally, I've never tried one, but there are kits out there (and I'm sure someone else will reference a source) which introduce you to the aromas potentially to be found. That might be a shortcut for you.
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Re: Flavors in Wine

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Jun 09, 2006 3:35 pm

dmcquade wrote:I think that's my problem as well ... I can taste the different flavors but I have a hard time putting a name on it. I've see the tasting kits you're talking about in the American Way magazine, but I didn't know if they were just another scam or if they really worked. Maybe I'll pick one up and see if I get anything out of it.



It's a bit pricey, but one of the better of those kits is "Le Nez du Vin". I was given one some years ago, and it's a useful tool to help you learn certain smells if they're unavailable in their "natural" state, as for instance sandalwood and acacia flowers were for me. The main thing IMO is to pay attention to what you are smelling to further develop your olfactory memory.

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Re: Flavors in Wine

Postby Otto » Fri Jun 09, 2006 4:22 pm

dmcquade wrote:I think that's my problem as well ... I can taste the different flavors but I have a hard time putting a name on it. ....

DJ, If you can see the differences, the names don't really matter all that much, I think. The scents of wine, though they correlate with those aromas found in TNs, are only "shadows", i.e. though a TN may say chocolate, and the wine said of this has the same chemical compounds as which produce a chocolatey smell, the amount is still rather small compared to chocolate. So what I'm saying is that as long as you recognise the scent you're after, you can call it whatever you will, e.g. x. So a meaningful TN for you might read: x, y, z. This doesn't mean anything to anyone else, but as long as it works for you, that's fine.

Now wine jargon is just like any other jargon. You just have to find a way of correlating your x, y, z to the commonly used vocabulary. I think the best way might be to try to find correlations by reading lots of TNs. It's a tough way. So I would rather suggest that you just start scribbling and don't worry if you can't define a particular scent: a Riesling will always smell more like a Riesling than a lime, and even a short note will usually be evocative enough to get some sense of the wine even though it isn't a potpourri of adjectives.

Oh, and if Robin doesn't mind me giving a link, here's one interesting article about scents and chemical compounds and such stuff:
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Re: Flavors in Wine

Postby Sue Courtney » Fri Jun 09, 2006 5:17 pm

I agree with most of what Gary said, although I have tried the kits and found some of these aromas to be a little artificial. But why do you need a kit when you have real life aromas and flavours around you? Do what Gary does and smell the fruit and vegetable in the supermarket. Dig your finger nail into citrus and smell the zest. Open up your cupboard and smell all the different spices and bottles of stuff. Go into a garden shop and smell all the different herbs and flower blossoms. Smell jams to get some idea of berry fruits. Smell the leather of a new car, an old car. Hug a tree. Most of taste comes from smell anyway and the palate experience is further heightened by texture, tannins, acid, sugar and phenolics.

Also, wine is such a changing thing. What you smell and taste can differ from the beginning of the glass to the end, by what you had before it and by what you are having with it.

Cheers, Sue
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Re: Flavors in Wine

Postby James Roscoe » Fri Jun 09, 2006 5:24 pm

Another great way is to have a party and pull stuff out of the spice cabinet and the refrigerator and pair them with the wines. One of our friends did this and everyone had fun including people who weren't into wine.
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