Beverage Dynamics

Beverage Dynamics NovDec 2018

Beverage Dynamics is the largest national business magazine devoted exclusively to the needs of off-premise beverage alcohol retailers, from single liquor stores to big box chains, through coverage of the latest trends in wine, beer and spirits.

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www.beveragedynamics.com November/December 2018 • Beverage Dynamics 9 BY MARNIE OLD IS IT WINE 'TASTING' OR WINE 'SMELLING'? A staff training infographic worth 1,000 words MARNIE OLD is one of the country's leading wine educators. Formerly the director of wine studies for Manhattan's French Culinary Institute, she is best known for her visually engaging books published by DK – the award-winning infographic Wine: A Tasting Course for beginners and the tongue-in-cheek He Said Beer, She Said Wine. It's ironic that of all the senses used in "wine tasting," smell is by far the most important. In every-day speech, we use the word "taste" for all sensations that happen in the mouth. In the wine world, the term is used mostly in that catchall sense too. But professionals analyzing wine need to describe its characteristics in greater detail, based on how they are perceived, and by which sensory organ — not just where they originate in the body. By teasing apart three separate sensory threads that together make up how wines generally "taste," we can distinguish true "tastes" registered by our taste buds from smells that constitute "fl avor," and from tactile sensations known as "mouthfeel." The different kinds of terms used to distinguish and describe these facets of the wine experience can be disorienting for nov- ices. And they can contribute greatly to the wine trade's per- ceived pretentiousness. But once someone understands why these traits differ, and how to tell them apart, they're already halfway to being an expert themself. Biologically speaking, the only difference between fl avor and scent is purely directional. Olfactory nerves in the upper nasal cavity recognize smells as "odors" when sniffed from external sources. However, when those same smells reach the nose via the internal passage connecting the nose and mouth, they regis- ter as "fl avors." Here they are also amplifi ed by greater proximity and the warming effect of body heat. Make sense? Wine descriptors become more clear once you understand this difference between true taste sensations — those perceived on contact with the tastebuds — and the far-more var- ied smell sensations that masquerade as fl avors — those detected by the olfactory nerves. Only rudimentary wine characteristics, like sweetness and acidity, are truly "tasted." But thousands of more complex and delicious sensory traits register as both scents and fl avors when wine's volatile aroma compounds reach our olfactory nerves. BD SMELLS FROM EXTERNAL SOURCES REGISTER AS ODORS SMELLS FROM INTERNAL SOURCES REGISTER AS FLAVORS OLFACTO RY N E R V ES NOT CONVINCED? TAKE THE SMELL TEST. • Pour yourself a glass of any fruit juice • With one hand, fi rmly plug your nose • With the other, lift the glass and take a sip • Swallow (awkwardly) and wait 5 seconds • Release your nose to restore air fl ow Note that without natural air fl ow, only the juice's sweetness and acidity are apparent. The distinctive fruit 'fl avors' do not register at all until the nasal passage is re-opened. Why? Because they are not tastes; they are smells.

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