What Does Smelling Wine Tell You?

To make sure you appreciate your vintage when you buy a fine wine from the Ideal Wine Company, today we thought we’d ask; what does smelling wine tell you?

Stereotypical wine drinker

Modern society has developed a very clear image of the ‘stereotypical wine drinker.’ When an expert drinks wine, they start by swirling the glass, then they take a good sniff before lifting the drink to their lips and taking a small sip.

Throughout the modern era we have mocked this pronounced image of the stereotypical wine drinker. We have dismissed people who act like this as wine snobs; dangerously out-of-touch members of the elite who know nothing about ordinary life.

Swirl the wine

This common perception may be somewhat accurate; there are many wine ‘experts’ out there who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths. However, we would also argue that you shouldn’t dismiss the behaviour they display when trying a new vintage out of hand. You can learn a lot about a wine by swirling it and having a good sniff before you take a sip.

Berry, Bros and Rudd explain in their wine guide that there’s a very good reason you should swirl a glass of wine before you do anything else. This one simple act increases the surface area of the glass, exposing the vintage to the air. This allows the wine to evolve, unlocking the aromas and flavours that allow you to learn about the character and composition of your bottle.

Smell the wine

But what will you learn after you’ve swirled your wine and taken a good sniff? First, it will either smell ‘clean’ or ‘unclean.’ If it’s ‘unclean’ it will smell musty, and this is a sign that your drink is corked and that you shouldn’t lift the glass to your lips at all.

Second, it will smell ‘weak’ or ‘pronounced;’ the stronger the smell, the more likely it is that the grapes were grown in a hot climate. A strong smell can also indicate that the wine has a high sugar content, and thus, a high alcohol content.

Finally, smelling the wine will be able to clue you into the specific tastes that characterise the vintage. For example, it might smell of nuts, dairy, sugar, wood, flowers, herbs or even minerals. This is an indicator of age; older wines smell more savoury and spicy, whilst younger wines smell more fruity and flowery.

Learn about your vintage

Therefore, you can lean a lot about your vintage by swirling it in the glass and giving it a good sniff before you take your first sip. This one act can tell you whether the wine is safe to drink, what it tastes like, how strong it is, how it was produced and even how old it is.

Now we’ve explained why you should smell your wine before you drink, try it out for yourself! Buy one of the Ideal Wine Company’s most aromatically complex bottles, the Chateau Latour 1983 today, so you can put your new knowledge to practice!