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How to savour and rate a wine's aroma

by , 27 November 2014

Once you've given a wine the once over with your eyes, you need to give it a good sniff.

This is an integral part of evaluating a wine and you should do this before you get stuck in with the tasting part.

But how do you go about doing it? And what are you looking for?

Read on to find out…


Here’s how to begin weighing up the aroma of a wine


The first thing to do is swirl the wine gently in the glass. You want to take some short sniffs, then move the glass away from your nose.

The purpose of doing this is to identify its key aromas. These will help you get to the bottom of the wine’s characteristics.


Rule out any flaws in the wine


The first thing you want to check is if the wine is spoiled. If you smell any mustiness, it indicates the wine’s corked and this is a flaw you can’t fix.

You also don’t want to smell any of the following:
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  • Burnt matches;
  • Vinegar;
  • Nail polish; and
  • Yeast;

If your wine passes these tests, you can move onto the next step…


Try to identify fruit aromas in the wine


You’re looking for a fresh fruit smell, Paul Gregutt in Wine Enthusiast explains. The only exceptions to this are if a wine is very old, it’s a very sweet wine or it’s very cold.

Floral aromas
This is common with white wines from cooler climates, such as Riesling and Viognier.

Grassy aromas
Grassy or herbal aromas are common in wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Earthy aromas
If you can smell mushroom, leather, damp earth or rock, you’ve got an earthy red wine. But too much of any of these aromas can be an indication that something isn’t quite right with the wine too.

If you’re looking for the best white and red wine, you want aromas of earth, rock and mineral.

Aromas from the wine barrel
These aromas include vanilla, chocolate, roasted nuts and smoke. Aromas like this come from wine ageing in new oak barrels.

Each barrel will have a different effect on a wine’s aroma.

So there you have it. How to savour and rate a wine’s aroma.

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