Sensory masterclass in wine education

A nose that knows

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.

Explore Fine Vintage options here.

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.

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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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