Training Your Nose Like a Pro – How to Understand the Aromas of Italian Wine

The bouquet

You’ve heard us speak about it in so many of our reviews. The bouquet is the aroma that any wine omits after it’s first poured from the bottle.

Every bouquet contains notes. These vary in intensity depending on the make of the wine and the producer’s own efforts. Often, you’ll have dominant notes that are immediately apparent, with subtler notes hiding deeper into the bouquet for those who wish to search for them.

The more complex the bouquet, the more notes it will generally have.

All of that is fairly common knowledge. But there’s a question that many who aren’t wine purists have about bouquets…

How do you understand them?

Or more specifically, how do you train your nose so that you can detect the individual notes in a bouquet?

We’ve all been at a party and seen somebody take one whiff of a glass of wine only to immediately rattle off a bunch of notes.

But when you smell the same wine, you struggle to get past the dominant note to find all of the subtler ones underneath.

Here’s a secret.

The ability to untangle the bouquet isn’t something that we’re born with. It’s a talent that you have to train constantly to ensure you get it right.

The Nose is a Delicate Tool

Just think about all of the aromas that bombard your nose every day.

No matter where you go, there are all sorts of smells for you to discover. And it can lead to a bit of sensory overload. By the time you’ve dipped your nose into an Italian wine’s bouquet, you may not be able to pick everything out.

Or, it could just be a case that your nose is picking up every other smell in the room too, which makes it harder to zero in on the aromas that you’re trying to focus on.

Your nose is a pretty delicate tool and it’s one that needs a little education if you’re going to pick apart a wine’s bouquet like a pro.

Here a few things that you can do to both train your nose and make it easier to understand the aromas that an Italian wine emits.

Tip #1 – Swirl the Wine

Don’t jump straight into trying to sniff the bouquet when you first pour your glass of Italian wine.

It takes a little time for the wine to mingle with the air so that it starts releasing its full array of notes. You can speed things up a little bit by swirling the wine slowly in the glass.

Remember that the wine’s sat still in a bottle, often for several years. It basically needs a little bit of loosening up before it gives you everything that it has to offer.

Take your time and swirl the wine. Let it mingle with the air so that it can release all of the smells that you expect to find when you finally take a sniff.

Tip #2 – One Long Sniff

How you’re trying to smell the bouquet could also be an issue.

If you’re taking short and sharp sniffs, you aren’t going to experience everything that it has to offer. Plus, you’re not giving your nose the chance to really figure out what it’s smelling.

The key to taking into a bouquet is to hold the wine close to your nose and take one, long inhale

Allow the aromas to wash over your nose so that you can start picking apart the notes.

It’s almost like taking a big gulp of something.

In fact, that’s a good general rule of thumb. When examining the bouquet, it’s all about the big inhale to get as much of it as possible. But when it comes time to drink, small sips are the key if you want to really appreciate the wine.

Tip #3 – Start Training Yourself

Now, let’s get to the main event in terms of being able to understand Italian wine bouquets.

You can do both of the above tips and still not get a real feel for what you’re smelling.

The secret that the pros have is that they train their noses to make them more capable of picking out individual scents.

And they don’t do it by constantly smelling different glasses of wine. After all, your nose needs to know what it’s searching for before it can figure out what’s in a bouquet.

Instead, they often use special kits that help them to understand the building blocks of different types of wine.

That’s where we come in.

We offer one of the special kits on the Xtrawine website. Made by Pulltex, who you may recognise as one of the world’s leading Italian wine accessory manufacturers, the kit contains a bunch of smaller bottles, each of which has a different aroma.

These include the following:

  • 12 bottles that cover the base aromas you can expect from an Italian red wine.
  • 12 more bottles that will help you figure out what goes into an Italian white wine bouquet.
  • A further 16 bottles that offer up more complex notes.

Of course, that’s not going to help you if you don’t know what the notes are once you crack open the bottles.

That’s why the kits also come with a special instructional manual. This booklet tells you exactly what each bottle contains and it details the aroma you can expect to encounter when you open it.

It also contains tips on how to pick out that aroma when it’s part of a more complex bouquet.

So it all works pretty simply.

First, you train yourself to pick up on the individual notes of different types of wine.

Once your nose knows what it’s looking for, you move onto the more complex notes in the kit. All the while, you’re using the book to help you understand what your senses experience.

When you’re ready, you try out your new skills with an actual glass of wine.

We promise that you’ll improve your ability to pick apart a bouquet. Order your kit from the Xtrawine website today.

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