It’s been more than a decade since I attended formal wine education classes, though the informal and casual (no exams to prep for), learning has continued since I completed the first three levels of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust certificates long ago.
It was probably time to get back in the classroom, so when Fine Vintage Ltd., invited me to attend its sensory masterclass I jumped at the chance, despite feeling a bit of pandemic-anxiety after months of solitary wine exploration in the comfort of my home.
It’s no fun to debate tasting notes with my cats.
The Sensory Masterclass is all about the nose. Well, mostly about the nose; there is wine tasting involved, of course. If you’ve ever wondered how your wine geek friends can identify the differences between apple and pear, strawberry and cherry, or leather and mushroom, this class will answer that question.
Why they insist on debating these subtle scents is another question.
The “how” is more easily answered through the presentation of strips dipped in various essences. Several dozen of them. As each one came out, up to everyone’s nose they went, as if we were all in a perfume shop.
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Some were easy. Some were not. But it was good to be back in the thick of it with fellow wine afficionados of all levels, though I admit I enjoyed toying with the finer smelly details. Yes, one strip was definitely melon, but what kind of melon? And is it fresh or overripe melon? Or is it melon rind?
And to answer the question of why debate these aromas? First, it will help you identify a wine. From there, it will help you identify why you like or dislike certain wines. I am not big on Gewürztraminer, for example, and I know it’s because the scent of roses that can be pervasive in Gew is not something I like in my glass, unless it’s part of a bouquet in a nice vase on my desk.
I love the smell of chocolate, and it’s an element I look for an enjoy in a good Merlot. For a long time I didn’t realize that’s why I like Merlot.
If you’re not a wine drinker, certainly you can apply your nose to all forms of fermented beverages and discover what it is you appreciate about certain beers, ciders, meads, and spirits.
With autumn officially beginning this week, maybe it’s time to explore a course or two, either in person or online.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.