Class: Le Nez du Vin Part II

May 12, 2010

Last night was my second and last class for “Le Nez du Vin”: The Nose of Wine, offered by my local community college “Cooking & Wine School.” It is a class designed to help improve one’s ability to identify smells in wine, with last night focusing on red wines.

Our lecture for the evening was about taste. Taste and smell are different senses in the fact that our bodies are having reactions to chemicals in order to sense. Another odd thing is that 75% of tasting is actually smelling.  Together, they help us identify if something is safe to consume.

Recently, there is a group of people being identified as “supertasters.” About one quarter of the population seems to have more of the smaller taste buds, making them more sensitive to tasting things. There is a simple test of consuming a harmless chemical called propylthouracil (PROP), which will taste bitter to a supertaster, while a nontaster will taste nothing. I’ve always doubted that I was a supertaster, but they said that supertasters avoid coffee because it is too bitter, which I do. Looking at the list on Wikipedia, I also avoid grapefruit juice, only consume spinach in a lettuce mixture, I don’t care for soy, and I love gin but cannot handle tonic water. Maybe supertaster explains my aversion to goat’s milk products, when others cannot tell the difference? My instructors did indicate that sometimes  supertasters avoid alcohol because it “burns”, so maybe I’m not a supertaster. I’ll have to try and find PROP and find out for sure if I am a supertaster.

Back to wine – besides actually tasting wine, there is also how it feels in the mouth, which can be broken up into a few categories:

  • Body – sometimes thought of as thickness. Ideally, wine should be silky, not thin.
  • Temperature – consuming any food cold masks flavors. If a vendor is having you taste refrigerator cold wine, then there are flaws that they are hiding.
  • Texture
  • Tannin – tannins create a bit of puckering. A little bit of tannins open up the taste buds, while a lot of tannins close down the taste buds, sometimes even leaving the mouth feeling dry. Initially, tannins are short chains which are not exactly pleasant tasting. As they age, they bond to make longer chains, which taste better.
  • Alcohol

Somehow, I had a wine smelling reputation from the previous week, and it kind of spooked me when a clerk came in and said I was the one to beat, and I had never seen her before. Plus, I didn’t really think I was that good as I had a list go guide me before. Well, after last week’s 14/17 correct on smelling jars, it was decided not to give us a list of what smells there were to challenge me. I still ended up with a 14/17, with one very close one of being marionberry jam (a thornless blackberry hybrid developed at OSU in 1956), and I thought it was blueberry jam. I forgot my wine wheel, too, and had to borrow others. I had a little harder time with the flaws, and said one was like plant rot, but more pleasant, and he said it was actually the water drained off of a can of mushrooms, so he was trying to get us to smell fungus.

When we started drinking the wines, I had a hard time, as all of them had a black pepper nose to me, and it was difficult to get past that to smell any fruit. Maybe I’m not a supertaster.


2 Responses to “Class: Le Nez du Vin Part II”

  1. […] Next week’s class will talk about red wines. Posted by candlewineproject Filed in Uncategorized Tagged: age, “Le Nez du Vin”: The Nose of Wine, color, jars, Le Nez du Vin, sight, smell, white wines Leave a Comment » LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. […] local community college offered Le Nez du Vin: The Nose of Wine, Part 1 and Part 2, to help identify smells in […]

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