Why Smelling Your Wine Makes it Taste Better

blonde women smelling wine

When you’re at a wine tasting there are usually 5 S’s that you go through when trying a new wine – see, swirl, smell, sip, savor. While it may seem time consuming, these are needed for getting all you can out of the wine you’re drinking. In this blog we focus on smell, and why smelling your wine makes it taste better!

Yeah, we know. It is called a wine TASTING – not a wine smelling. But to actually be able to detect all the smells in your glass of vino, your nose needs to do the work!

Why Do We Smell Wine?

Your sense of smell is 1,000 times stronger than your sense of taste. Your taste buds can really only pick up on if the food or drink is sweet, savory, sour, or bitter. On the flip side, your nose is able to pick up on many different smells and aromas. 

When you smell your wine you’re getting your brain ready to taste and find the different flavors. Smelling your vino can help you determine a few different things about your wine.

  • Where the wine came from (old words vs new world) (hotter vs cooler climate)
  • The process used to make the wine
  • If there is something wrong with your wine

smelling wine

Different Wine Smells

There are three categories of wine smells. Each of these smells come from a different part of the wine. 

Primary aromas are the smells that come from the grape itself. These smells are often the strongest smells you find in wine, such as flowers, herbs, and fruits. 

Secondary aromas are the smells created during the winemaking process. They are mostly found in white wines but can smell like cheese rind, stale beer, almond, and peanuts. 

Tertiary aromas come from how the wine was aged and how long it was aged. Some wines age in their bottles while others age in oak barrels. This aging process gives wine a savory flavor, like baking spices, cured leather, vanilla, and cedar. 

White wines are going to smell and taste more like tropical fruits, lemon, limes, citrus zest, and honey. While red wines will often smell like darker red fruits like strawberries, raspberries, plums, baking spices, peppers, and tobacco. 

There are a lot of different weird words used to describe the smell and taste of wine. Make sure you know what they mean before using them, because sometimes it can mean something bad about the wine.  

how to smell your wine

How to Smell Your Wine

While it may seem pretty straightforward there is a special way to make sure you find all the aromas in your wine.

  1. Start by holding your wine glass by the stem. This is to ensure that your wine stays at the ideal serving temperature. 
  2. Take the first sniff – this is to help warm your nose up to the smells. 
  3. Swirl your wine – When you swirl your wine it brings the compounds or stereoisomers to the surface of your wine. Making them easier to detect. 
  4. Take a deep breath – Make sure you stick your nose all the way into the glass. It may feel silly, but this is the best way to smell all the aromas. 
  5. What are you smelling? Does it smell like that you thought it would?

Tip: When smelling your wine, keep your mouth slightly open. This will help you smell more of the aromas. 

In Vino Finiti 

Smelling your wine is an important step in detecting everything in your wine. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever smelt in your glass of vino? 

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Bright Cellars

Our staff is full of passionate wine lovers. With our amazing sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been schooled on all things wine. We came together to write this article, in hopes of spreading a little wine-ducation with you.

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