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Wine Nose | The Wine Virgin
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Wine Nose

March 4, 2008

Hello Wine Virgin, I would like to learn how to develop my wine nose. What do you suggest I do? - Matt in Nova Scotia, Canada

Wow, our first Canadian question… Matt, the first thing I would have to say in order to develop a good wine nose is simply sit back and relax. Try not to eating anything for two to three hours before you actually proceed with this process. Reason being is that the flavors from certain foods would interfere with you being able to fully appreciate the aromas and could possibly taint your first experience. What a horrible thing for a virgin.

Having a nose for wine makes the time spent well worth the effort and here is some information to help you get on your merry way. The nose or smell of a wine describes the perfume that is given off in the form of esters.

Esters are compounds produced by the reaction between acids and alcohol. This happens during the wine fermentation process and also as the wine ages. The contribution of esters to wine is an acetone smell that’s sweet and slightly fruity. Esters also contribute complexity to wine

Also, the nose is determined by the aromas and bouquets which are inherent to the wine itself. Aroma is the part of the smell derived from the grape such as a flowery nose. The bouquet comes from the aging of the wine in a cask or in a bottle e.g. a woody or nutty nose.
A wine virgin should judge the wine nose by sniffing the wine in an open glass. The nose of wine can range from very pronounced to moderate to subtle. A wine would lack nose if there was no discernible smell at all.

As a rule of thumb here are some guidelines for wines that have a nose which are pleasing: Fresh nose is a wine that is pleasant with a zesty charm. Flowery nose is a wine which is fragrant with an intense aroma of flowers that may have been involved during the wine fermentation process. A fruity nose is attractive and has a fresh quality with the smell of ripe grapes.

A fragrant wine nose is attractive and has a natural aroma while a spicy nose has a rich, herbal or spicy aroma. Clean nose is absence of unpleasant odors. Woody nose is a just as it sounds, a wine that has the scent of wood and finally a wine that has a yeasty nose can relate to how the wine was made, such as allowing the wine to remain on the wine lees which will give it certain hints of different flavors.

Now for wines with an unpleasant nose here are a few examples. A metallic nose is usually due or caused by metal contamination during wine-making or aging process. A moldy nose comes from the use of rotten grapes or stale, unclean casks or bottles.

Corky nose will give the faint smell of cork but not to be confused with corked wine. A sulfuric or matchstick nose has a similar smell of rotten eggs. An oxidized nose delivers a stale smell due to exposure to air and finally if wine has a vinegar like nose simply toss it due to it being unfit to drink.

Matt, follow these simple guide lines and let your nose show you the way. Cheers!!

Comments

2 Responses to “Wine Nose”

  1. Cleanse the Palate : The Wine Virgin on March 10th, 2008 2:12 pm

    […] I need to do to cleanse the palate so to speak? You glanced over this last week in your “Wine Nose” post about not eating for a couple hours before hand. Is there anything else I can do? - […]

  2. Wine Tasting Notes : The Wine Virgin on April 23rd, 2008 10:07 pm

    […] - Known as the “wine nose“. Also, another helpful tool to pinpoint the smell is with something called a wine aroma […]

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