2.) Give it a swirl, take a sniff

The next step is to assess the wine’s initial aromas. What you smell in a glass of wine are volatile compounds. Once we smell these volatile compounds our brain processes them in very complex ways. The memory of scent is one of the strongest, and is one of the most fundamental memories humans possess. Of course all of our memories are vastly different, and this is one reason why it is so common for one person to smell something in a wine (grandma’s candy bowl) while another might smell something completely different (dried, salted plums).

Add to this the fact that we all have different thresholds for the scores of compounds that make up each wine’s unique bouquet, and it comes as no surprise that we can have such spirited conversations over what a wine smells like! To get these volatile compounds to fully reveal themselves generally takes some encouragement, which is why we swirl wine in a glass. By increasing the exposed surface area of wine we can increase the rate at which these compound volatize, creating more complex and intense aromas.