Games to train the senses for wine tasting

Wine aromas

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We suggest some simple exercises to exercise your taste and smell with the family

Easter is approaching and, with the prospect of making more plans at home than we would have liked, we offer you the chance to take part in an interesting exercise in which the whole family can take part and which will help you to train the senses that are most commonly used in wine tasting. We are talking about some simple games to exercise smell and taste, which we can do with materials we can find in the supermarket or in local shops, are you up for it?

What we need

First of all, we need a clear table to place all the elements that we are going to use in our game, pencil paper and, if we have it at hand, a blindfold like the ones given on planes for resting. By covering our eyes, we will be able to strengthen both our sense of taste and our sense of smell and make the game more fun.

Nose gym

As many of you may know, wine tasting consists of three stages: the appearance, the nose and the palate. In this case we will focus on the second one, for which we can use the following elements to identify the most frequent aromas in wines.

White wines:
  • Bread: the typical yeasty aroma of bread can be found in many white wines, especially in those that have been aged on their lees.

  • Jasmine: the sweet smell of this flower found in many gardens and farms is very common in some aromatic whites, such as muscats.

  • Dried flowers, such as camomile, will bring us back to the aromas of xarel.lo whites from the Penedès.

  • Freshly cut grass: we can take a small sample of any green area and its smell will unmistakably remind us of Verdejo whites, among others.

Red wines:
  • Strawberries: the aroma of this seasonal fruit is usually very present in many young red wines, sometimes mixed with other riper red fruits, such as plums.

  • Spices: white pepper, black pepper or cloves, common in any kitchen, can be found when smelling many red wines. They come from the wine's contact with the barrel.

  • Provençal herbs such as thyme, bay leaf or rosemary: these types of dried herbs are very common in Mediterranean red wines. In Atlantic reds, these aromas become "greener", more balsamic and remind us of that famous cream that our mothers used to put on us when we felt congested to help us sleep better.

  • Cocoa powder: aroma associated with barrel ageing. It is also common to find aromas such as vanilla and even roasted coffee.

  • Oxidised apple: If we cut an apple in half and leave it in the air for a while to oxidise and turn dark, we will be able to appreciate the smell of oxidation typical of some prematurely aged wines.

Exercising the palate

In this case we will focus on the palate, we will experience the most basic sapid sensations, so that when the case arises, it will be easier for us to detect them when tasting a wine.

  • Acidity: we can exercise this taste by sucking a lemon or a pineapple cut in slices, or even a very green fruit. Acidity is basic in all wines, whatever type they may be, so it is important to be able to assess its intensity and where it appears in our mouth

  • Astringency: this is a very common sensation of harshness in some red wines, as a consequence of the tannins. Biting into a very green banana or eating an artichoke will help us to become familiar with it.

  • Bitterness: for our game we can use a little wormwood, which can be found in any health food shop. Bitterness can also be present in reds, whites and rosés.

  • Sweetness: a few simple grains of sugar are enough to obtain this sensation, although we can also play at biting into a sultana to familiarise ourselves with the taste of dried fruits and, therefore, with the taste of some sweet wines, such as traditional Malaga wines.

If we try to go from one flavour to another with our eyes closed, it will be more fun, as we will realise how difficult it is sometimes for our brain to take in every new sensation, and we will probably need a few seconds for our taste buds to get used to it and identify which one it is. Are you up for a try?


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