The Nose knows

Our sense of smell is the most powerful tool we have, and is responsible for most of what we taste.  Thsi is particularly true for wine, and the Napa Valley Wine Sensory Experience was an opportunity for a group of bloggers to learn, store, and recall sensory memories.

We first started out with a blind exercise where aroma essences were contained in black glasses, arranged by groups, and we had to guess what they were.  let’s just say this is easier said than done!  I know that my sensory sense is not exactly on par, but I scored a sad 9 / 25.  Yes that’s right, me, the wino, with the random flavors that I pull out of wine like coffee and dried blueberries whirred together in a grinder for one specific Syrah, got 9.  The horror!  The shame!  The hilarity!

At the risk of being aughed out of town, here are my guesses and the actual answers, grouped by major scent category:

  • Fruit
  • Pinot Noir
  • Herbal
  • Oak Barrel Boquet

We also tasted the effect of different additives to chocolate, as well as how the glass shape and size impacts the flavor profile of the wine.

It absolutely is eye openeing (and nostril flaring) to be reminded of how much the olfactory sense impacts flavor.  Have you ever had a cold and been so stuffed up that everything tastes like cardboard?  This is why.  As someone who suffers allergies, it can also explain why wines taste different from day to day, since a sunny pollen filled day will impact me more than a foggy cool damp one.

After the initial exercise in futility scent, we tasted teh wines of WH Smith, and tried to put some of our new found aroma detective skills to work.

2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – strawberry, raspberry, tea, smoke, balsamic vinegar.  This was a nice well rounded P that was light enough for everyday drinking, but had a classic Pinot Noir profile.

2007 Maritime Vineyard Pinot Noir – is from a vineyard on the hillsides of Cazadero, where a lot of sun exposure gives a dense and concentrated wine with strawberry, raspberry juice, a touch of spice and rich cherry and plums were followed by a touch of bitter nutmeg on the back palate.

One of my favorite wines of the day was the 2006 Piedra Hill Vineyard Howell Moutnain Cabernet Savignon.  This was a big fruity Cab, with a rich softness that made it quite approachable from teh get go.  Dark chocolate, blue & black fruit and chewy earthy goodness made this a lovely drinking wine.

I hope to go back and try my nose at the sensory evaluation again!  It’s a difficult skill to master and I often wonder how much training it takest he pros to pull out the “correct” scents.  As someone who has become known for pulling random flavor profiles out of wine, I lean towards the nontraditional and would love to expand my aroma palate.

Cheers to Marcy Gordon for setting this up!


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4 Responses to “The Nose knows”

  1. Joe Says:

    I’m so terrified of these sensory tests. They’re a lot of fun, but I just know I’d perform terribly!

  2. winebratsf Says:

    Joe that’s why it was so much fun! I love wine, I blog about wine, but I make NO claims that I am a tasting expert. I pull the MOST random things outta my arse sometimes 😉
    It caused MUCH hilarity. Clearly you need to come visit and do it with me so we can video tape it for posterity and embarassment.


  3. Marcy Gordon Says:

    I think you had a slight allergy handicap that day. I took me three classes to increase my correct response number up to 17. So I guess third time is the charm.

  4. winebratsf Says:

    Yes tis true, I did have an allergy handicap. But Still! 9! 😉
    I must I must I must increase my …

    Olfactory senses!

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