What your Taste Buds and Nose Detects in Wine Depends on your Past Experience
It’s something that’s often overlooked. And while many sommeliers and wine professionals adhere to various tasting guidelines (PDF) when they taste wine, it’s important to note that you might taste something completely different! So how to properly taste wine? First, there’s one important point we need to discuss.
Wine tasting is subjective.
Everyone experiences the flavor and aroma of wine in different ways, and while there are no doubt some common associations when describing wine, there are varying degrees dependent upon the individuals palate. One’s palate matures every time you experience a new flavor or smell, whether it’s wine or not.
You might associate a particular Merlot with the flavor of blueberry and the smell of violet, while another may describe that same wine as resembling pomegranate and geraniums.
This is largely because we associate our palate with what we know. The person who went right to blueberries, may have eaten many more blueberries than pomegranates earlier in their lifetime. The same could be said of floral notes – the gardener who planted violets is going to recognize that scent over geraniums.
How can we become better Wine Tasters?
In short, the best solution is to get out there and taste and smell everything. Use your senses more than you ever have. Walking through Home Depot? Take a whiff of that bright green rubber hose roll. Do the same the next time you go back. Sniff that sheet rock. Chances are you’ll detect mineral qualities. If you drink wine with relative frequency, and open your senses to more flavors and scents, you’ll find yourself starting to appreciate wine on a higher level.
This does not make you a wine snob, it just makes you passionate about something you enjoy. I urge you to tell your friends to get out there and smell. To get out there and taste new foods. Life’s to short to pass up the little things.