When at the table one of our guests plunges his nose into the glass of wine, turns it over in his hands, smells again, we are there to ask ourselves what he found so strange inside while we already pour ourselves the third glass.
But since we were not made to live like brutes (an ancient Italian poet sayd so), let’s try not to make a bad impression and stop behaving like alcoholics.
What do you smell in wine?
He says he smells fruit, flowers, grass, spices … even smell of leather and other things that could not even remotely fit in a glass of wine. But did you really smell banana inside this Chardonnay? Are we really sure that he found some iron in that Nebbiolo? And inside that Champagne that you liked so much, does he really hear about the green apple?
No. We’re not sure. There is none of this in wine. No farmer has washed the fruit, or worse the planting tools, inside the wine you are drinking. Our diner is just sniffing some chemicals and is probably being a bit of a bully too.
So he invents odors at random?
No, he probably sensed those smells, but he’s just associating the present with his memories of him. Humans are weird and tend to use old images to describe new ones. That may be why we are so resistant to change.
There are billions of different chemicals in nature, each with its own smell. We are the ones who associate them based on our experience.
Does your friend say there is green apple in Champagne? Of course, only because when he was a child his parents gave him a green apple and said “this is a green apple, smell that perfume”.
If instead they had given him a Champagne, today he would smell the green apple and say “what a good Champagne smell!”
And he probably would have been a much happier kid, but that’s another story.
In Chardonnay there is no banana. There is a chemical substance present in large quantities in banana (isoamyl acetate, to be precise), a substance that develops in nature and which can also develop in wine as a result of yeast fermentation. Each yeast has its own favorite scents, or stinks.
In the case of the smells of wood, cocoa, spices, tobacco, typical smells of aged red wines, these derive from contact with wood. Here it is a bit like you washed the barrel with the wine you are going to drink. So yeah, it can be a bit gross as long as you don’t think about the nature of fruit and flower scents.
In fact, when these fruity and floral scents reach your nose, you are not smelling fruit or flowers. You are smelling the product of yeast fermentation.
Simply put, you are smelling yeast farts.
In wine there is no fruit, there are no flowers. Only farts. Tell your friend.