Do You Smell That?

For those of you you who don’t know me I am The Good Wine Guru’s other half, I like to refer to myself as the Good Wine Artist. It’s my job to paint pictures of wine bottles and glasses, find things to make out of all those old corks and bottles laying around the house and of course I am the Assistant Taste Technician.  Which is to say if it’s a bottle of wine that was opened in our house, there is a near 100% chance I’ve assisted in it’s consumption.  It has come to my attention recently that I may not be cut out for the job of Assistant Taste Technician which I have enjoyed for so long (don’t tell my boss!).

It’s not because I’m tired of wine or I don’t love wine, it’s because I’m starting to think I don’t have the pallet or the nose for it.  I know that all wine is subjective and we don’t all like the same things or even perceive things the same, but sometimes I feel like a lot of things are going right over my head.  Sometimes my duties as Assistant Taste Technician involve more “formal” tasting events, where we’re not just opening a bottle of wine with dinner, we are staring down six to eight bottles of wine that are all to be opened and tried and often tweeted about.  It’s situations like theses where I find myself a bit out of place, throwing around tweets like “Mmmm… this one is good.” Mean while others at the events or on twitter are talking about the hint of Lychee or the Cassis or who knows what.  I can honestly tell you that I’ve never tasted Lychee or Cassis, at least not knowingly, and therefore have no point of reference for those flavors.  I often find myself coming up short when trying to put into words what something smells or tastes like to me. Partly because I seem to be uncomfortable assigning non food terms to wine. It took me a long time to say things tasted like leather or petrol until others started using those terms to describe something I was drinking and I had an “OOOOH! That’s what that is!” moment.

We once held a tasting at our house with friends and we all contemplated the wine in our glass for several minutes failing to put our fingers on what it was that was odd about our wine, that weird taste, that strange smell. Then one of our friends in attendance hit the nail on the head with “It tastes like new leather shoe,” which somehow amazingly enough it did. Needless to say it wasn’t our favorite selection of the night, and as someone who prefers to keep my beverages and footwear separate it’s a pair of dots I never would never have connected on my own.

The Guru recently obtained a Wine Aroma Wheel from someone, somewhere and I’m still a bit shocked by some of the things on it and why on Earth I would put in my mouth something that smelled like some of these things. I’ll make my case with: Skunk, Cooked Cabbage, Wet Dog and the entire “Microbiological” category.  I remember once seeing on the posted tasting notes at a wine shop that a certain wine smelled like “dirty dish rag.” I don’t think I’ll ever be one to think quite in those terms, if only because I’d like to be able to enjoy the wine I’m drinking.  I am, however, going to hang on to this aroma wheel and maybe get my hands on a taste wheel so that the next time I can’t quite put my finger on it I may be able to come up with a more worthwhile opinion beyond “it’s fruity.”  And while I’m at it I really need to find some lychee and add that to my mental flavor library.

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