Anyone can train their nose to enjoy the olfactory phase of wine, the key lies in tasting, tasting, and tasting
The flavors that delight our lives are not only associated with the sense of taste, but also with the sense of smell. The foods and beverages we enjoy enter us through our eyes, our mouths, and, of course, our noses. Therefore, to fully enjoy such a complex elaboration as wine, it is necessary to educate the palate, but also to train the nose to enjoy the olfactory phase of wine.
In 2005, one of the most famous restaurants in history, Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli, summarized its entire philosophy in 23 points. In number 10 of this set of gastronomic commandments, the team stated that:
The stimuli of the senses are not only gustatory: one can equally play with touch (contrasts of temperatures and textures), smell, and sight (colors, shapes, visual deception, etc.), thus making the senses one of the main points of reference when creating.
This statement is valid for haute cuisine and also for the tasting and enjoyment of excellent wines such as Pazo Baión’s single-estate albariños. The senses are the best weapons we have to create prodigious elaborations, but also to enjoy them.
In this article, we will discuss how to train the nose to be delighted by the incredible aromas in the prodigious olfactory phase of wine.
What does the olfactory phase of wine consist of?
The process of tasting wine can be roughly divided into three main phases: visual, olfactory, and gustatory. All three provide information about the wine being enjoyed, and although a priori we might think, as the El Bulli team warned, that taste is the key sense, the smell is just as important for understanding wine and allowing oneself to be delighted by it.
Hence the importance of training the nose to enjoy the olfactory phase of wine. The key biological element of this phase is the olfactory bulbs since they receive the vaporous and odorous molecules and are responsible for subtracting all the information they contain. These molecules reach the bulbs, located in the nostrils, through two routes:
- Nasal. The aromas enter directly through the nose.
- Retronasal. The molecules also travel to the bulbs when we swallow the wine.
What are the steps to follow?
Taking into account the various ways of accessing the aromas, we can stipulate the following steps in the olfactory phase of the wine:
- Sniffing in a still glass. In this initial step, the primary aromas of the wine being tasted can be detected.
- Shake the glass. Not in any way, but in a circular motion, to impregnate the walls of the glass with the wine. This increases the evaporation surface and the secondary aromas can be smelled better.
- The wine is left to rest and then smelled again. In this step, the tertiary aromas, a product of aging, can be unraveled.
- The wine is swallowed. In this step, the olfactory phase overlaps with the gustatory phase. Since, when the wine is swallowed, the molecules travel to the bulbs through the retronasal passage.
The only secret: tasting, tasting, and tasting.
We have already explored the steps that make up the olfactory phase of wine. A simple procedure that not only wine experts can successfully execute. At this point, some readers may wonder if there are any tricks to perform the olfactory phase optimally and train the nose to be able to enjoy all the aromas of the wine. The answer is no. The only secret to optimizing our sense of smell is to taste, taste and taste.
The more the nose gets used to the aromas that are released in each step of the olfactory phase of the wine, the easier it will be to detect them and not miss any of them.
In reality, the wine ritual is far from being a complex procedure to understand and execute. It works like almost everything else in life: practice and experience are everything. How do we learn to drive a car? After passing the theoretical test, the only way to achieve satisfactory driving is by doing one practice after another. Until we master the car and know all its secrets. It’s the same with wine.
Knowledge and enjoyment within everyone’s reach
The idea has spread that only wine experts can enjoy the olfactory phase and that it can only be developed in all its complexity in professional tastings. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone can enjoy all the nuances of wine, anywhere.
To perform the olfactory phase of wine, as we have seen above, no instrument is needed, nor is it necessary to follow a strict and complex protocol. The most important thing is, and forgive us for insisting, to taste, taste, and taste. And that, of course, can be done at home.
What’s more, there are few better places to imbibe the magic of wine than at home. An environment in which we can relax and focus on the nuances of such a delicate and complex elaboration.
In addition, it is important to note that training the nose to enjoy the olfactory phase of wine does not have to be a solitary hobby. The most fun and beautiful way to enjoy a good wine is to do it in the company of family or friends. In this way, we can exchange impressions and unravel together each of the aromas present in the wine being tasted.
In this way, the olfactory phase of wine tasting becomes a delicious shared experience, almost like a collaborative game in which all participants enjoy the wine while embarking on a sensational aromatic journey. Everyone can enjoy the ritual of wine, either alone or with someone else.
The aromas of Pazo Baión
Now that we have carried out an approach to the olfactory phase of the wine, we can unravel the aromas of Pazo Baión’s single-estate Albariños. Three unique elaborations in which several aromas come into play.
Pazo Baión, an elaboration of white aromas
The Best Young White Wine of Spain, according to the Gourmet Wine Guide, stands out for its intense varietal perfume. That is, by the power of the aromas directly related to the albariño grape variety.
These aromas are both floral (orange blossom, jasmine) and fruity, from citrus to white fruits such as apple or pear.
Hence we say that it is a wine of white aromas. These nuances make Pazo Baión a fresh and balanced elaboration with a fantastic development in the mouth.
Gran a Gran and the sweeter notes
The semi-dry Gran a Gran is an almost miraculous elaboration, the product of a fascinating natural process such as noble rot, which readjusts the metabolism of the grape and generates new aromas.
Thus, in addition to the varietal aromas, sweet notes such as honey, candied fruit or apricot jam stand out. In such a way that the freshness of the floral and fruity aromas balances the sweet ones.
This makes it a perfect companion for the most delicious and sweet desserts. When passing from the olfactory phase to the tasting phase, it leaves a long and smooth finish in the mouth.
Vides de Fontán, the strength of spices
The aromas of Vides de Fontán are the result of both the grape variety and its complex 3-year aging.
This generates that, together with the aromas of white flowers, of varietal character, are present in its notes of toasted and spicy, which give it a unique personality.
Its aromatic composition makes it an extraordinary wine, characterized by a long development in the mouth and that pairs perfectly with the best meats.
The olfactory phase of the wine has extraordinary importance in the process of enjoying in all its splendor the multiple nuances of these elaborations. All noses are prepared to detect and enjoy the aromas, they just have to learn how to do it. That is why tasting, tasting, and tasting is the main learning method. And this can be done alone and with someone else, on a festive occasion and at home in peace.
Immersing yourself in the ritual of wine opens the door to a universe of sensations.