Often times, the bouquet of a wine can tell a story. Is the wine grassy and herbal with grapefruit characters? In this case, you may be smelling the delicious aromas of Sauvignon Blanc. Or what if the bouquet has a heavy black pepper aroma followed by hints of raspberry and blackberry? These are the sure signs that you’ve run into an aromatic Zinfandel.
Swirl, Sniff, Smell
The point here is to take your time. Swirl, sniff and smell. Gently hold the base of your glass flat on the table and take time to swirl the wine around in the glass, coating the entire bowl. This will add a thin layer of wine to the glass, releasing another layer of the wine’s aromatics. Hold the glass up to your nose tipping the wine slightly toward your nose and deeply inhaling. Don’t be afraid to get your nose down into the glass – the deeper you go the more aromas you’ll pick up.
Try to identify specifics in what you are smelling. Do you smell fruit? If so, what kinds? If you’re having trouble picking up a specific fruit, try writing down a few adjectives that do come to mind. Remember, the more smells you expose yourself to, the better trained your brain is to recognize those smells later. Taking notes on the wines you smell, helps get your brain in shape for all those long hours of sniffing!
Finally, remember that your sense of smell can be affected by outside influences. If you try to evaluate the bouquet of a wine in a Chinese food restaurant, you may pick up different smells in the wine – or perhaps, all you’ll smell is Chinese food. The point is that your environment can dramatically affect the bouquet and aromatics of a wine.