Why do we sniff wines?

BAOS3071First of all, there is no wrong smell description because every person has a different sensory perception and our experiences affect it quite a lot. However we become more distant from sensory perceptions in our lives nowadays. I wonder when did you smell your everyday coffee last time as we started to buy coffee-to-go with a lid on top or the flowers that you see every day. Here is where you have to start building your sense of smell from. I highly suggest not buying any artificial aroma kits. You have to have an experience associated with the smell to remember it later. Falling down from a cherry tree would be a great experience that you will never forget. You also have to eat some veggies and fruits which won’t have any smell unless you eat them to release their smell compounds. So, start making your list that you have to explore and try to smell repeatedly your food and drink, the flowers that you see, actually things in your life. Soon, you will have no excuse that you don’t have a good palate or vocabulary.

The wine aroma perceived by nasal or retro-nasal ways. Basically, after you take a sniff of your wine the smell molecules go to your smell receptors, your smell receptors run that through nerves up into your olfactory epithelium to be processed and following this your brain identifies the smell. The more you smell things the better your brain identifies them.

I have been asked many times if there is an addition of aromas into wine, e.g. strawberry, lemon, rose, ginger and so on. The answer is no. The wine aroma results from a complex blend of a large number of volatile molecules (±800) -some of them (<100) are flavours in hydro-alcoholic phase- which come from grape by itself (varietal aromas), pre-fermentation, fermentation and aging process. For example, linalol will bring orange flower, coriander, jasmine aromas while euganol brings cloves, vanillin brings vanilla and ethyl hexanoate brings apple and banana aromas. Swirling your glass or aerating the wine by sucking air in your mouth will help to expose the aromas as they are volatile compounds.

Varietal aromas are depending on viticulture practices, soil, climate, diseases, maturity and composition. Pre-fermentary aromas are depending on maceration, extraction, hydrolysis and oxidations. Fermentation aromas are depending on alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. Aging aromas are depending on physico-chemical and biochemical transformations.

The main families of the aroma molecules are esters, alcohols and acids which originate from fermentation process. The other families are terpens, thiols, acetals, lactones, phenols, sulphur compounds, furans and epoxides. Some varieties like Muscat and Gewurztraminer are called aromatic varieties. Monoterpenic alcohols in Muscat, Guewurztraminer; alkyl metoxy pyrasines in Cabernet-Sauvignon and Cabernet franc; hydroxy dimethyl furanone and amino acetophenone in Isabelle and Concord grapes are the molecules that give these grapes unique character.

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