Definition - What does Nose mean?

Nose is a wine tasting term used to describe how wine smells in the glass. Different wine varietals produce different aromas. The nose is also affected by how the wine is made and stored.

"Nosing", or smelling, a wine is an important step in the wine tasting process. Much, if not most of our perception of taste comes through our sense of smell.

WineFrog explains Nose

A human nose can pick up on thousands of different scents. The nose of a wine differentiates the flavor scents, while the tongue translates its taste. Some of the most common scent descriptors include:

  • Citrus - lemon, lime or grapefruit
  • Spice - cinnamon, clove, vanilla or pepper
  • Earthy - mushrooms, leather or dust
  • Floral - rose, elderflower or violet
  • Fruity - apples, peach, cherry, plum or berries

There are three levels of wine aromas. Primary wine aromas come from the fruit, secondary wine aromas are a result of the fermentation process and tertiary wine aromas are derived from the aging process. For example, oak fermentation imparts spicy, smoky or vanilla aromas, while malolactic fermentation results in rich, buttery aromas.

The nose of wine is critical for tasting purposes. There is a set technique in being able to differentiate the aromas a wine imparts. During a tasting, wine is swirled in the glass to release the aroma vapors. The nose is then placed into the glass and with several, quick sniffs, the aromas become apparent. Care must be taken to not prolong inhaling, as the aromas quickly blend and become undiscernible. Impressions of the different aromas are then noted. Some common varietal aromas include:

  • Cabernet and merlot - cedar, pine, currants
  • Zinfandel - berries
  • Syrah - fresh black pepper
  • Pinot Noir - spicy, violets
  • Chardonnay - crisp apple, butter, tropical fruit
  • Riesling - citrus, cantaloupe, apples
  • Sauvignon Blanc - melons
  • Muscat - peach
  • Gewurztraminer - spice and peach

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