Thursday, September 2, 2010

Diary of a Sommelier Student—Nose to the Glass…the Olfactory Examination

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in many wine tastings. Formal, informal, at an enoteca, wine fair, dinner, or lunch. I’ve had the chance to try many wines and work on broadening my horizons as I make my way from aspiring sommelier to a full blown one. As I attend the wine tastings, my mind sometimes wanders. I often find myself looking around and watching those near me perform my favorite part of the three part wine tasting…the olfactory exam. The part that I fondly call Nose to the Glass.

I’ve had the good fortune of observing people that I have a grande respect for. I watch, I study, and sometimes even scrutinize as they bring their nose to the glass. They inhale, sometimes with their eyes closed…sometimes staring straight ahead…reflecting, contemplating, pondering.

I try to imagine what they may be thinking. Could it be the intensità…intensity? The levels of aromas. Is it lacking? Is it a wine whose scent is so delicate, so fragile that you can barely perceive it? Is it very intense? Very strong? Or somewhere in between?

Are they thinking about the complexity of the wine? The variety of aromas? Fresh fruits, ripe, mature? Florals? Spices? What?

Are their years of experience helping them to note the quality of the wine? That combination of intensity and complexity that can place a wine in the range between coarse (a wine with a poor bouquet) to excellent (a particular distinct bouquet).

What about the winemaker himself? What must be going through his mind as he brings his nose to the glass? The vintage? The winemaking process? How this bottle compares to the last?

Beautiful moments to silently watch. Charming, if not brief moments of this olfactory exam. I wonder if they realize that I’m watching. Trying to absorb, soak up, take in the whole experience. ..

Probably not…

and that’s what makes it beautiful…

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