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Tips for Smelling Wine

When you smell wine, you're sniffing out its aroma, or flavor. Wine may deliver the aroma of fruits or flowers, tobacco or toast, chocolate or butterscotch. You may detect a hint of herbs, vanilla, mocha, or even grass. To help train your nose to free-associate subtleties among different wine varities, try these tips:

  • Stick your nose right into the airspace of the glass where the aromas are captured.

  • Don’t wear a strong scent; it will compete with the smell of the wine.

  • Don’t knock yourself out smelling a wine when there are strong food aromas around. The tomatoes you smell in the wine could really be the tomato in someone’s pasta sauce.

  • Smell every ingredient when you cook, everything you eat, the fresh fruits and vegetables you buy at the supermarket, even the smells of your environment. Stuff your mental database with smells so that you’ll have aroma memories at your disposal when you need to draw on them.

  • Try different sniffing techniques. Some people like to take short, quick sniffs, while others like to inhale a deep whiff of the wine’s smell. Keeping your mouth open a bit while you inhale can help you perceive aromas.

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