Identifying Subtle Aromas and Flavors in Wine

Braised & Blanched™

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Assortment of Red Wines, Herbs on Wooden Spoons (Pexels)Miguel A. Padrinan, Timur Saglambilek

On countless occasions, it has been frustrating to try a glass of wine for the very first time, allowing the aromas to tickle the nose, then allowing the taste to roll to the back of the tongue. It could also be a wine tried before, but the flavor profile isn’t identifiable to the brain. The aromas and flavors are recognizable sometimes; however, one can’t say what the aromas and flavors are. The words are on the tip of the tongue (no pun intended).

Imagine tasting Grandma’s cooking over and over again and marveling about the flavor combinations. Everyone comments on how Grandma added a lot of lemon zest in the tart filling this time, or how much Italian herbs are in the spaghetti sauce. The flavors of childhood and adulthood have become reintroduced in life over and over again, yet when tasting wine, the mind draws a blank. Talk about irritating!

People spend time and money ensuring food is seasoned to taste and to personal liking. Time and time again the palate is seduced by flavors of white pepper, passion fruit, bell pepper, red cherry, strawberries, lime, etc. Why is it that the palate tends to not recognize these same flavors in wine? The palate recognizes this but the brain and mindset is not convinced unless there is proof that these items exist in what we are eating or drinking.

Try the 10-Day Flavor Challenge which is designed to help develop the palate and increase flavor detection in wines. For the challenge, select three herbs (i.e., basil, rosemary, tarragon), four fruits (i.e., lime, dragonfruit, kiwi, strawberry), and three dry powder seasonings (i.e., cloves, cayenne pepper, cinnamon). Prepare an entrée, beverage, or dessert using one of the selected ingredients for the next ten days.

For example, on day one: select an orange. Close your eyes, smell the aroma of the orange. Next, close your eyes and eat a slice of the orange. What are the aromas? What are the flavors? Now prepare an item with the fresh orange cooked in or prepared in it. How has the flavor profile changed? Now do the same steps each day with the remaining herbs, fruits, and dry powders selected for the challenge.

After conducting the 10-day challenge, go to the store and select two white and two red wines. Smell the wines. What aromas do you identify? Now taste the wines, allowing the wine to roll from the front to the back of the tongue. What flavor profiles are evident? Read the back of the wine label for what the winemaker suggests are evident flavor nuances in the wine. Were the same aromas and flavors identified?

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Writer of supernatural fiction, pop culture, food and beverage topics, spirituality | former restaurant manager & bartender | current Resource Planner in NOLA

New Orleans, LA
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