kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits, travel & lifestyle writer / wine educator


Wine tasting vs. Wine smelling

I often tell guests at my wine tastings how important the sense of smell is when tasting wines. We can technically only detect four basic tastes--sweet, sour, bitter and salt--and luckily, there is no salt in wine! But we can detect thousands of smells, so when it comes to wine tasting--the nose knows.

At the Masters of Wine Symposium in Napa recently, Dr. Charles Wysocki of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia backed up that theory. He also went further, saying that not only are smells detected differently in different people, but that certain scents (such as musk and bananas) can't be detected at all by some people.

This goes along with the other piece of advice I give to those attending my tastings--that wine tasting is extremely subjective, and there are no right or wrong answers. Just because a wine critic or the latest issue of Wine Spectator says that you should smell or taste something in a wine, doesn't mean that you will. Everyone's sense of smell and taste is different, and one person's dream wine is another one's "yuck."