My brother recently echoed a common frustration among wine drinkers – “I can’t recall aromas or flavors well enough to be a good wine taster”. Well, taste and scent memory arecritical skills if you want to be successful with food or wine. How else can one hope to think up the perfect pairing for a wine, or the seasoning to add to a dish? But it takes work, just like toning a muscle or memorizing multiplication tables.
And our modern world is of no help – scents assault us at every turn, so manufacturers make them stronger and stronger. We recently returned from a trip where our noses were assaulted by the scents of the flight attendant’s perfume, the deodorizer in the airplane’s bathroom, the soap shop whose open door allowed fake soap scents to waft a full block away, the potpourri in the hotel lobby and even the detergent used on our bedding and towels. These manufactured scents pervade our noses like muzak invades our ears, a subliminal foundation that makes it more difficult to be consciously aware of, say, the scent in our glass of wine. If you want to be a better cook, gourmand, or wine taster, make an effort to turn off the constant hum of aromas in your daily existence.
P.S. Wine Tasting Etiquette – never wear cologne or other scents of any kind when attending a wine tasting. You may not smell it after five minutes (by then, your sense of smell has become de-sensitized to it), but everyone else can!