The nose knows... wine
By Carlo Cibo Original Print Publication: March, 2007
Aroma may be more important to your appreciation of a wine than taste.
Paying close attention to the "nose" will increase your enjoyment of the wine.
Part 1- The Nose: A history
The best wines possess the richest aromas. Those that aren’t as good are aromatically poor, and our sense of smell tells us the difference. A wine’s “nose” as it’s called, reveals much about its identity, origin and quality before you even put it in your mouth.
In fact, smell may be the most important sense for tasting and enjoying wine. A large part of what we call the “taste” is really “aroma.” (You know this because when you have cold you can’t taste your food.) In addition to telling you about the wine, the bouquet can conjure intense memories of people, places, and emotions; it’s an olfactory prelude to the carnal gratification on your palate.
The aromatic information that is processed by our brains, therefore, mingles with previous experiences. For this reason, it’s fundamentally important that a good wine taster, as well as an aficionado, taste wines often so that the aromas lodge in her memory.
Nearly 500 aromatic compounds have been detected in wine and can be organized in the following manner: primary aromas that come from the grape and are the most fresh and fruity; secondary aromas generated during the fermentation process are more intricate than the primary aromas; tertiary aromas are the most mysterious, elegant, and complex. These result from the chemical changes that occur as the wine ages.
This multiplicity of aromatic compounds is a function of the soil, climate, age and type (or types) of grapes, the ripeness of the grapes, as well as the materials and technology used during the winemaking and aging processes.