All about smells
Have you ever eaten something when you have a head cold and noticed that it tastes like nothing?
That's purely down to your nose (AKA your schnozz).
What we won't realise is just how closely connected your sense of smell and your taste is, with our main flavour sensitive nerve cells located not in your mouth but your nose - in your olfactory mucosa (at the top of your nose).
Our sensation of complex flavours is actually derived from aromas picked up in our nose, relegating our mouth just to sorting out sweetness, bitterness, acidity and salt (plus umami).
The 400 odd different smell receptor types that each of us have up in our 'olfactories' are capable of sniffing our a trillion different smells.
To try and experience a wines flavour in full, we thus need to try and pick up as much aromas as possible. The best way to do that is by swirling your wine around your glass, a process which helps to activate esters (which smell). These volatile compounds will also change when exposed to air, which only offers more aromatic (and flavour) complexity.
See; there is a reason for all that swirling after all!
Further, swirling also helps encourage oxygen into wine, a process which can serve to soften the perception of tannins (making wine smoother) and allows some of the less desirable aromatic compounds to dissipate (like mercaptans).
If you are ever in a restaurant and want to look like a real pro when offered a freshly opened bottle to taste, don't taste the wine. You don't need to really, as so much information can be derived by giving a glass a big swirl and then sticking your nose in there.
In fact, the only reason to taste a freshly poured, 'is this wine ok' tester is to check the serving temperature.
And serving temperatures are a whole other topic all together...
If you'd like to know more about swirling, smelling - and sipping - wines then come along to one of our wine tasting events. Have a squizz here at the latest program and join us for a night of fun!
(Photo by Par Boman)