Smell:  Your nose has a story to tell and this will make the story better

  • Intensity – following the same process we learned with white wine, start by smelling the wine from a few inches above the rim of the glass and make mental or written notes about what you smell.  Faint? Bold?  Get closer with your nose just above the rim of the glass.  What change do you notice?  Next go all in and stick your nose into the glass and inhale.   Different varietals, even how differently they are made, will tell your nose a different story.  Is the wine’s aroma light?  Medium?  Or big, bold and intense?
  • Aroma Layers – red wines, just like white wines, can have multiple layers of aroma from primary (resulting from the grape variety, growing and harvesting decisions), secondary (relating to how the wine was made or fermented, what type of vessel the wine is made in and if it is young or old) and tertiary aromas (resulting from storage and aging decisions made by the winemaker).  For red wine, primary aromas will center around red, blue and black fruits from ripe and fresh, to baked or dried.  Herbal aromas can also exist in certain varietals as can floral aromas.  Secondary aromas will mostly derive from oak barrels and have spicy, smoke, tobacco or earthy notes from the charred inner walls of the barrel itself. Tertiary aromas add the most complexity.  We will discuss more about these influences in Part 4:  Sip.