How to “sniff” wine and not look like an idiot

We have all seen someone “sniff” wine before they drink it. Granted, they look a bit strange while doing it, or maybe pretentious is the right word, but it can add greatly to the enjoyment of the wine.

You start by putting a small amount of the wine in a glass. Too much wine and you will end up wearing it as it sloshes on everyone nearby. So how do you do it?

1. Keep your glass on the table and rotate it three or four times so that the wine swirls around inside the glass and mixes with air. As you swirl, the aromatic compounds in the wine vaporize so that you can smell them. Your first instinct of what you smell, no matter how far-fetched, is probably correct.

2. Then stick your nose right over the glass opening and take either short sniffs or inhale deeply – personal preference – while your mouth is slightly open.

3. Let your mind wander and think about what you are smelling. Do you smell fruit? Or it is like being out in the woods? Or the clean, fresh scent after a rain storm? Or is it spices?

The point behind this whole ritual of swirling and sniffing is that what you smell should be pleasurable, maybe even fascinating, and that you should enjoy the process.

This should be fun. Don’t criticize yourself because you don’t think you have a keen enough “nose” to do this correctly.  Smelling wine is really just a matter of practice and attention. No one knows what Anise smells like unless they have been exposed to it multiple times. If you start to pay more attention to smells in your normal activities, you’ll get better at it.

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