Learn How To Smell Wine

Learn How to Smell Wine – Day 2

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And we’re back! Learn How To Smell Wine. 21 Days to Wine gets off the ground with a masterclass on how to develop a sommelier’s sense of smell.

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Remember, that subscription to the YouTube channel and DiVino Wine School enrollment are free! Enrollment gives you access to downloadable DiVino Wine School class notes directly from our website!

In this episode: Learn How To Smell Wine

In this episode, Learn How To Smell Wine, Annie returns to a short lesson on how our sense of smell works and give you some tips on how to train your nose every day with household items.

Sauvignon Blanc Tasting Notes

Wine of the day is Gaspard Sauvignon Touraine 2017 from the Loire Valley. Sauvignon Blanc is a great place to start smelling wine because of its distinctive aromatic qualities. Sancerre, also from the Loire Valley is one of the world’s most famous Sauvignon Blancs.

Browse Sauvignon Blanc online.

Learn More About Sauvignon Blanc

Watch a video to learn more about Sauvignon Blanc!

Hello everyone!

Learn How to Smell Wine – Day 2

DiVino Wine School is officially in session.  Welcome to DAY 2:  LEARN TO SMELL

I’m Annie.  A certified sommelier and wine consultant. My business, DiVino, is based in New York City.

But we’re shooting 21 Days to Wine in Kansas City, Missouri, my home state, at Californo’s, beloved family restaurant in the heart of the historical Westport neighborhood. 

So a special thanks to the Burns family and their team for hosting us!

The best part of this project is that I am wherever YOU are.  These videos are a way for me to share some of what I know and love about wine with you.

 Please fill up the comment section with questions and I will do my best to answer them along the way.

And if you just got here, make sure to subscribe and enroll (it’s free!) to stay up to date on what we’re tasting and smelling. I’ll release the next class every Thursday, so you can join live or do it at your own pace.

TODAY’S WINE IS A Sauvignon Blanc – You can start tasting at any point during the lesson. I won’t know!

I’m kicking off this series with SCENT for a few reasons. 

One, it’s my favorite things to talk about.

Two, it takes time to learn, so the sooner we get started, the better.

And three, smelling is one of the most complex parts of wine tasting. You’ve probably heard someone describing the notes of wine and thought, where are you getting this from? Black cherries? Licorice? Tar?  

All I smell is wine.

The aromas, or scent notes, in a glass of wine, can give you all kinds of information beyond just the flavor.  Believe it or not, you can tell everything from the grape variety to the country, to where the grapes were grown and harvested – like, on a mountain top or by the sea – and even how old the wine is.  Some people can even identify the winery that made it and the year it was bottled.   

That sounds crazy, but it is 100% possible, with a LOT of practice.

 PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. Worst case scenario, you drink a lot of wine!

Think of your favorite food. Something you’ve been eating your whole life. Can you imagine the smell and taste of it?  Is your mouth watering?  

Wine connoisseurs love to talk about what they smell in a glass of wine. It’s part of the pleasure, unraveling an olfactory web of different smells, and finding things we recognize and things we love.

But none of us was born with the ability to do this.  The only difference between you and me is that I have been training my nose since 2006.  At my sommelier school we started every class by smelling something.  And our homework was to smell more things during the week.

I said there would be science.

Here it is. Your nose is filled with olfactory receptors.

You can send smells up there by inhaling through your nose as well as your mouth. These receptors send a message directly to your limbic system. That’s basically the lizard brain.

The oldest and most primitive part. It’s where memories are formed and stored, and emotional responses are triggered instantly. That is why some smells can make vivid memories come flooding back.  And because you associate the scent with that memory you will never forget it.  

Wine is memory.

The only way to recognize notes of grapefruit in say, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, is to know exactly what grapefruit smells like.

And the only way do that is to make a scent memory. 

Scent memory is emotion.

For me, fresh-cut grapefruit is my dad in the morning, in his kimono, brewing coffee and reading the Wall Street Journal with National Public Radio on in the background.

Do you have any memories associated with grapefruit?

 What about oranges or lemons or limes? If not, make one this week. And share them with me in the comments below!


I brought some grapefruit today.


If you subscribed or signed up for our newsletter you might have it too. I also brought an orange and a lemon. Citrus fruit is a great place to start. It’s cheap and easy to find. Chances are your neighbor has a lemon right now.

If you aren’t anywhere near a grapefruit or a lemon, find something else. Anything.  If you have to press pause and go get one, do it. I’ll wait.

Now, take whatever you have and get in there close.  You might have to cut it or stir it or shake it or squeeze it to release the scent.

You’ve seen people swirl their wine glass? This is one reason why.

In order to reach the receptors in our noses, scent molecules travel in what are called volatile aromatic compounds. 

Volatile comes from the Latin for “Fly.”

They have to fly up our noses. So do what you have to do.

Get in close and suck up as much as you can. It helps to take short strong sniffs.  Like this.

Take short strong sniffs.

Now. Pay attention to what you’re smelling.  CLOSE YOUR EYES. Do you recognize it? Does it remind you of anything? Maybe it’s the first time you ever thought about it.

Maybe for the rest of your life, grapefruit will remind you of that weird wine girl on the internet.  I’m fine with that.

Make an association.

It doesn’t matter. The point is to make an association. You can use anything you have around the house. Don’t stop until you’ve smelled your entire kitchen. Close your eyes and have someone test you. What about that leather jacket hanging up in the hall? Smell it.

Then go outside and do the same thing.  When you pass a flower shop, stop and smell the roses. For real! But pay attention. Make an association or a memory.

The only way to train your nose is to seriously start smelling.

 The only way to train your nose is to seriously start smelling.

The more you practice, the more you will start to notice scent notes in the world around you. And one of these days, those scent notes are going to show up in your wine glass.


In fact, I brought a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.  We’re only at the beginning, but this is a great exercise. If you’ve got some citrus fruit, and a bottle of this wine, (or something like it) see if you can detect some of those notes in the glass right now!

This Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Loire Valley, in France and has very prominent Grapefruit notes.

There is a world of Sauvignon Blanc out there, and a world scent notes including, but not limited to:

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Gooseberry
  • White peach
  • Kiwi
  • Starfruit
  • Lemongrass
  • Grass
  • Gravel
  • Bell pepper
  • Basil
  • Pineapple
  • Green apple and more!

Don’t forget to tell me about your scent memories in the comments section. And let me know if you tried a Sauvignon Blanc today.

And definitely subscribe to my channel to get a head’s up and enroll to get all the class notes, so you can follow along with what’s happening next week. It’s free!

See you next Thursday. Or whenever you tune in.


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