Wine tasting uses all your senses and I especially love spending time ‘nosing’ a glass of wine. Swirling the glass and gently coaxing the wine to release aromas and aromatics. I search through the layers of primary fruit to find the secondary aromatic that often lies hidden behind the obvious forward fruit – a bit like finding a chestnut under autumn leaves. Once found, I spend time finding the right words to describe what I smell. Then of course there is the anticipation of the taste on the palate.
When slowed right down, wine tasting can be quite mediative! An opportunity to focus your attention on each of your senses.
So how do distinguish between primary fruits and secondary character? Primary fruits are those that are usually easier to find on the nose and tend to be associated with fruits you could buy in a supermarket. Raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries.
Secondary characteristics are more complicated. These are the aromas you recognise and have grown up with, smells you can describe but you wouldn’t be able to find in a shop. Pencil shavings, burnt rubber, wet stone, woodsmoke. My favourite red wines tend to have a balance of both. Bright, fresh aromatics of red fruit that gently give way to notes of woodsmoke, old leather and library books!
This autumn I will meditate over Chianti! Chianti is a wine I always associate with this time of year. I love the dark fruits on the nose accompanied by woodsmoke and tobacco on the finish.