This short trip into the world of winetasting was the follow-up to a library book read. I don’t drink often but the gardening, processing and science of olfactory senses was really very interesting… like the fact that wine is naturally cloudy and that wine does have non-subjective smells. Aromas are due to the presence of volatile compounds…molecules that quickly turn to gas and stick to receptors in the nose, which are often perceived by the brain as scents. The concentrations and interactions of these volatile compounds do create fairly specific aromas. Maturation in oak barrels is known to impart vanilla flavors, for example, because vanillin is present in oak. Wine, therefore, can literally smell of vanilla.
Here are a few other things I learned during the course that might be worth knowing, if you plan on studying yourself or need a fact for a game of trivia. They are as follows:
1. Carrying a fancy case of multiple wine glasses will be required.
Oh, so fancy.
2. When using a spittoon, always spit with gusto.
Unassertive spitting will leave you slobbering like a spaniel. Don’t do it.
3. Statements such as “It has a nose reminiscent of my grandfather’s gym socks” are acceptable.
Because despite some specificity, there are no wrong answers when describing the sumptuous bouquet that is wine. Really. Gym socks are okay.
4. The sugar content of wine grapes can sometimes be measured in degrees Balling.
Not to be confused with bawling.
A wine grape is a happy grape.
5. In the 1800’s an American terrorist almost destroyed the entire wine industry.
It was called phylloxera, an aphid-like root louse that decimated nearly all of the world’s vines.
But America also produced a disgusting, phylloxera-resistant grape vine onto which we can graft better grape varieties.
So we’re okay now.
And that’s something to drink to.