Wine Club Newsletter - June 2017
The Nose Knows
One of the first steps in tasting wine involves your nose. It seems logical that our mouth does most of the work when tasting wine, but it's actually our nose that delivers the results. Think of when you have a bad cold and can't taste anything. This is because most of what we taste, we're actually smelling.
There are two ways that you experience a smell. The first is directly through your nostrils, when you inhale a scent. And the second is through the retro-natal passage, also known as the area in the roof of your mouth that leads directly to your nasal cavities. Before doing anything, you should take a quick sniff of your wine to make sure it doesn't smell bad. You'll immediately know if the wine smells off.
Next, swirl the wine around the glass, allowing it to go up as far as possible on the sides. The aromas of wine are known as the bouquet, which is the scent of the actual grape combined with flavors that are created in the winemaking process during fermentation and aging.
Swirling aerates the wine and releases its bouquet, letting your nasal cavity draw up the scents into your olfactory system, which is essentially the control panel for your sense of smell. Your olfactory interprets what you smell, immediately comparing it to other familiar smells. The technical term for this is recognition threshold, and a good example of this is how a random smell can snap you back to a specific childhood memory in a flash.
After you swirl, put your nose in the glass and take a gentle but long, deep sniff and make a mental note of what you smell. Does it remind you of anything? Wine is made up of more than 300 different organic chemical compounds that are similar to those found in nature, particularly in food. That's why aficionados describe wines' aromas in terms of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices.
Wines, much like people, have unique personalities that are made up of many different qualities. If you give it another swirl, you might be surprised that you're able to pick out different smells than the first time. The ritual of smelling wine is very intentional and helps you learn a lot about the wine that you are about to drink.
While I am tasting, drinking, and evaluating wine, I like to have the wine open for as long as possible. Many wines change significantly over the minutes and hours, and if you find yourself drinking a bottle of wine inside of an hour, you have probably missed some attributes of the wine. Naughty YOU!
I recently had the experience of drinking a twenty-seven-year-old red wine from Burgundy, France. The early indications from the nose (and the palate) gave us the impression the wine was over the hill. It was a bit tart, acidic, and light on flavor and aromatics.
Two hours later, the wine had “woken up”. The tartness had now evolved into nicely weighted, smooth, elegant wine that had great appeal on the nose and on the palate.
Body of Knowledge
Women generally smell better than men. No, we’re not talking about body odor, though that may be true, too. Various studies have shown that females more accurately identify aromas such as citrus, vanilla, cinnamon and coffee, possibly due to larger olfactory bulbs in the brain. Two percent of humanity, however, cannot smell anything at all, a condition called anosmia.
She’s Got Legs
When wine is swirled in a glass, it leaves marks on the side. These are commonly referred to as legs, but are also termed tears, curtains, drapes and cathedral windows. Rich, thick, slow dripping legs are not an indicator of the wines quality, they just let you know there is a high level of sweetness or alcohol in the wine.
“NEW WORLD ORDER”
Walk Around Style Wine Tasting
Saturday, June 17, 3:30 – 5:30
$18 for Club Members
Taste 15 wines from all over the NEW WORLD. There will be two 96 point wines, and a good number of wines rated 90 or above to try. What a deal!
Make reservations by phone: 858 450 9557
Sleight of Hand Wine Dinner
Saturday, June 24 6:00 pm $89 ++
My favorite Washington State wine producer.
Extremely limited quantities of special wines. Good friend and winery owner Jerry Solomon will be on hand to moderate.
Make reservations by phone: 858 450 9557
Other Contributors: Erecipes.com, Scott LaFee