All wine tastings revolve around, and perhaps even begin with, the sense of smell. Learning to distinguish various aromas is the first step into the world of wine appreciation. And when learning becomes enjoyable, sensory analysis turns into a game.
"…But don't you perceive the hint of tobacco? And that fragrance of blackcurrant? That unmistakable note of tomato leaf?" The dialogue between the wine "expert" and the "novice" who merely drinks wine can often be a monologue, with the poor newcomer forced into silence as they try to identify scents in the glass (and in their memory), that they didn't even suspect existed.
This happens because the sense of smell, a fundamental sense, is often overlooked. We don't exercise it, and we don't use it to its full potential. Our nose can recognize thousands of odors and "store" them in a memory which is much more potent than our visual memory: the memory of a scent can last for thirty years, while the memory of an image typically fades after only five. These memories trigger powerful emotional and intuitive reactions. We can associate our first love with a scent. And in a very primal way, we can connect an odor with danger: the smell of gas alerts us that something is wrong; the bad smell of food warns us that it's spoiled and should be discarded. It's a great ally, one whose potential we only tap into to a small extent—just 1%, say the experts. A kind of "hidden ability" that should be trained, not just to learn how to properly taste a good wine.
The best way to train your nose is to try to recognize scents blindly. It's an enjoyable activity, much like a game, and like the most enjoyable games, it is truly stimulating, providing several benefits. This type of "training" develops our brain, enabling it to better interpret the signals from our sense of smell. After all, we all have an olfactory sense capable of recognizing thousands of odors, but often, with our eyes closed, we can't even identify an apple.
Tasterplace offers 8 collections of aromas, each containing 12 samples of olfactory aromas and a straightforward publication that provides essential information to discover the most important characteristics of products and how to taste them. Red Wine, Red Wine2, White Wine, White Wine2, Beer, Prosecco, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Chocolate are the products on offer.
Using them is incredibly simple. Let's take white wines as an example. The publication provides essential information to understand some of the most important characteristics of white wine, how to taste it, what aromas can be found in a quality product, and how to train your nose to recognize them. For instance, some white wines may have hints of pineapple, while others might exhibit grapefruit notes, but these aromas can be challenging to identify for an untrained nose. The 12 aroma samples help train your sense of smell. Once you've memorized a specific aroma, it becomes much easier to identify it, albeit much subtler, in the white wine you choose to taste. The aroma samples to sniff include 12 aromas commonly found in white wines: Lemon, Grapefruit, Pineapple, Pear, Green Apple, Acacia, Sage, Chalk, Honey, Butter, Black Currant Bud, and Bread Crust.
After reading the publication, you take an aroma from the package and sniff it without looking at what it is. We recommend trying to recognize the aroma and writing down on a piece of paper the number on the bottom of the vial and what you perceive: first the category, such as White Fruit, and then the specific aroma, for example, banana. Repeat the process with other aromas. Then, at the end of the practice, verify the correctness of your answers by checking the names of the aromas corresponding to the numbers on the vials at the bottom of the publication.
Like a game, to be tried alone or with friends, you can experiment during a social evening by bringing out the aromas and passing them around the table. This will spark a competition to identify them, with many surprising twists. Alternatively, if you want to organize a real competition, divide your friends into teams and challenge each other with pen and paper to identify the highest number of aromas. You can even repeat the game on different occasions until you can correctly identify all the aromas. Then, you'll start looking for them in the wines you taste.
However, the playful aspect is not the only offering from TasterPlace. Our aromas are used in training courses for aspiring sommeliers, allowing for a quick and enjoyable way to awaken the sense of smell. It's a professional use that some wine, beer, and other gastronomic specialty producers embrace as they use these aromas to explain to customers what they will perceive when tasting their products. Through the practice of tasting, not only does your nose become more refined, but your vocabulary does as well. TasterPlace provides us with a vocabulary of terms that we can use to describe what we are tasting, memorize it, and communicate with chefs and fellow tasters. So, when we taste a wine, we'll no longer find ourselves at a loss for words.