the sense of smell in wine tasting

on several occasions on my journey to learn about wine and food, i have been amazed at how our crazy fast-paced life today has made us lose some of our senses. 

take the sense of smell for example.  it is said that more than 1000 aromas have been identified in wine.  now, that's a lot of aromas... of course, not all can be perceived as some are traces hardly detectable by the human nose, but quite a few can be and yet, we have a super hard time to pinpoint exactly what they are when the wines are served blind.

smell very much affect our sense of taste.  in fact, it seems that smell is key to tasting anything at all.  try this: pinch your nose, close your eyes, ask your wife/husband/boyfriend/girl-friend to serve you a purée of apple and a purée of peach (separately of course...).  my guess is that you will not taste the difference.  yet, when you "un-pinch" that nose of yours, miraculously, you will find the choice obvious. 

try this other exercise.  at the dinner table tonight, blindfold your wife/husband/boy-friend/girl-friend and (no, this is not rerun of the movie 9 1/2 weeks...), ask them to smell various ingredients on their plate.  chances are that words to describe them will be hard to come by.

and so, to practice my wine tasting (and smelling) skills, i just bought an aroma kit from le nez du vin.  the master kit consists of 54 various vials each containing essential oils with the various aromas that are typically found in whites or reds.  the kit comes together with a book and cue cards that explain each of those aromas.

maria and i were surprised, at first, how few aromas we were able to identify blindfolded.  mainly because words do not come naturally when it comes to describing aromas.  but, when we started to concentrate and carefully focus, words were flowing more easily and pictures of those aromas started to form in our mind.

the starting kit below has 6 essential aromas to get you going.  a great gift for those food lovers around you.  it also a fascinating discovery of how our sense of smell, all important it is to our enjoying wine and food, is so underused in these days and age of speed and instant gratification.