Complexity of Aroma – How do We Train our Noses?

27 Oct

            After my first day of sommelier school, I was feeling a little intimidated….so I have made a plan.  Somehow the mere act of making a plan to deal with a situation that isn’t entirely comfortable acts like a balm on my negative feelings.  Since I made my plan I am ready to face the wine world with restored confidence.

            My lack of confidence stemmed from something I learned about myself that first class.  I’m usually able to sense and aptly describe flavors and aromas in wine.  But I generally only sense a single smell or taste.  We learned that a component of the value of a wine is its complexity.  A good wine should proffer an array of scent sensations.  My instructor and some of my classmates seem able to detect an array of scent nuances easily.  But me – I smell it, label the smell and I’m done.  I’m not yet able to break down and describe the secondary aromas.  So here’s my plan.  Before my next class, I’m going to do some research and create a list of aroma descriptors.  Then when I smell the wine, I can run through the list and ask myself which, if any, of the descriptors are present.  I don’t have any reason to think I have a substandard nose.  I think I just need to train my nose to be more discerning.  With my plan, I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll get where I want to be.


One Response to “Complexity of Aroma – How do We Train our Noses?”

  1. Rachael Horn October 27, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    I recently taught a wine aroma class that turned out to be very helpful for students. I used all of my glassware…like 60+ magnum Riedels…and put the actual aromatic descriptor in the glass and covered them with a petrie dish. Example, hunks of pineapple, peach, bacon, oak chips, coffee, caramel,etc. The students were give a sample wine and were instructed to recreate the entire aroma profile of their sample using the “aroma kits” of real aromatic descriptors. it was shocking how close the students got to their samples!

    I think it was helpful for them to see the descriptor, and then discern the aroma in the sample.

    It might be a well spent evening with fellow students! Aroma kits are nice, but they still have a chemically sense o them…

    Good luck cultivating your nose!

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