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Wine Advisor Express:
Training your taster

The wines of the world offer thousands of scents in their almost infinite variety. As an aid to novice wine tasters - and experts too - the wine scientists at the University of California at Davis, one of the leading wine-making and grape-growing schools in the U.S., came up years ago with a handy device called the "aroma wheel."

Davis Professor Ann Noble consulted with wine lovers and wine tasters to list all the descriptive terms they could dome up with for the smells of wine. Then they organized them into 12 major categories, subdivided into 29 subcategories and 94 specific terms. Then they arranged them on a circular table - a "wheel" - with related aromas placed close together around its circumference.

Having this reference at hand when you're tasting analytically can be very helpful in jogging your memory to come up with the specific nuance - from acetic acid to walnuts - that you're sniffing in your wine.

The copyrighted wheel isn't available for downloading, but you can order one - in laminated plastic, or printed on a T-shirt - from Prof. Noble's page on the UC Davis Website, Proceeds benefit the school's grape research.

On that same page, you'll also find a dissertation on training your tasting skills by "doctoring" samples of wine with common ingredients available in grocery stores, from vanilla extract to soy sauce to the colorful breakfast cereal called Froot Loops. (I am not kidding about this.) Even if you don't actually go through all the tasting exercises, this intriguing page is well worth a visit.

Express Notes:

This is Wine Advisor Express, daily edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, distributed Tuesdays through Fridays. To change your E-mail address, switch from daily to the weekly (Mondays only) distribution, or for any other administrative matters, E-mail Please be sure to include the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so we can find your record.

Thursday, June 14, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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