The Nose Knows!
July 1st, 2015
Peggy Fiandaca
Lychee, flint, toast, fresh picked hay, green pepper, wet glasses pulled out of cardboard, etc. etc. These are just a few of the descriptors for wine aromas.

 LDV Winery

Florida Attorney's Aroma Workshop

Many years ago, well before we had the idea of getting into the wine business, I bought Curt his first Le Nez Du Vin set of wine scents created by Jean Lenoir. It is like the ultimate board game for winos. Curt was up for the challenge and set out to build his skills to recognize all 54 scents of wines.

Why is it important to build a scent memory? Smelling is an important part of wine tasting and identifying the scent can provide information about the vintage, type of varietal, wine quality, or just make you sound impressive at the cocktail party. Like all of senses, they need to be worked. The old adage, use it or lose it, certainly applies to your ability to taste and smell. At the LDV Wine Gallery in downtown Scottsdale we host workshops on building scent memory and learning to describe wine using the Le Nez Du Vin scents. People are amazed that they cannot identify common scents such as cherry or strawberry in a blind tasting.

As wine rolls over the tongue the brain discerns flavors, but the taste receptors are limited to acidity, bitterness, saltiness, sweetness, and savory. It is the olfactory receptors at the back of the nasal cavity that can detect the full array of taste nuances. Smelling is an important part of wine tasting. At LDV Winery, we had to put off final wine blending for almost six weeks while our winemaker recovered from a nasty head cold last fall. His sense of smell greatly impacted his ability to taste. Have you ever tried to enjoy food while battling a cold? Everything tastes bland.

When describing wine, think first about the aroma’s intensity. After you have swirled the wine in the glass to let the aromas emerge, determine whether the aromas were aromatic, heavy, strong, or subtle and subdued.

The next step is to describe the wine’s aromas – What did the wine’s aroma remind you of – fresh mowed grass on a summer day or a bite of an over-ripe pear? Varietal wines can be recognized by the specific aromas – the smell of the grape varietals being used to make the wines.

At LDV Winery, this is one the reasons we focus on single-varietal wines. You should be able to detect the common aromas of LDV Petite Sirah (blackberries, plums), Grenache (cherries, spice, Viognier (apricots, peaches), or Syrah (pepper, leather). However, the winemaking process can change the aromas (e.g. aging in oak barrels contributing smokiness and vanilla or malolactic fermentation adding butterscotch and tropical fruit aromas) but the varietal essence is still identifiable.

If you want to expand your wine vocabulary and build your wine aroma skills, get a group of friends and book a Le Nez du Vin wine tasting workshop at the LDV Wine Gallery.