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We have sensors at the base of our nose, in the form of minuscule platelets, that are directly linked to a library of well-archived images in our brain. The range of images reflects our life experience. This is how we can put words to wine’s volatile molecules when they settle on our olfactory membrane. For example, furaneol in Merlot reds will remind you of strawberries or toffee, which are two similar olfactory images. The brain is capable of identifying 400,000 different smells. You can learn to work with your nose and improve your skill, like learning a foreign language. In language, there is speaking and there is writing; in olfactory perception there is nasal perception - achieved by sniffing the wine in the glass -, and retronasal perception, achieved by rolling the wine in the mouth. In this latter case, volatile and other principles reach the nasal membrane via the rear of your palate. The two tasting channels are complementary, compiling an overall impression. Swirling the wine around the glass amplifies these principles. And new aromas will stand out. This is the difference between what is called the "first nose" and the "second nose". You will quickly be able to identify several families of aromas for the wine you are sampling. For example, yellow or white flowers, or fruit. Yes. But which fruit? Red fruit such as redcurrant and raspberry, or black such as blackberry and blackcurrant? Other families include spicy, plant, animal, grilled and milky series, to name but these. Each family of aromas comes from somewhere. A woody wine was matured in barrels; a Sauvignon wine is reminiscent of boxwood or grapefruit; a red wine from the Rhône carries black fruit and spices whereas a Bordeaux will bring strawberry, blackcurrant leaf and bell pepper. The more you practice tasting, the easier it will become to identify the aromas!

BIVB / MUZARD J.P.Dégustation de vin rouge, examen olfactif © BIVB / MUZARD J.P.



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