One of the most frequently asked questions at our wine tastings in Buenos Aires is “how do I pick out flavors from the wine I am tasting”? This is an excellent question of course as many many people are intimidated by those who can detect the gooseberry and the pistachio shell and the freesia.

My first response is always “don’t worry about it too much, just worry about whether you like the smell and taste of the wine or not.” That is always step 1… just worry about what you like and don’t worry about what anybody else likes.

My second response is that if you are really interested in being able to pick out specific characteristics in wine, especially the “rare” descriptors, then what you are really interested in is exercising your palate. This is a basic and simple thing to do that you can do every day, usually best when you are cooking.

My process has been to smell and taste every single ingredient that I ever use when cooking. You have to do this raw. So try smelling a raw onion, then taste it, then cook it in olive oil, then smell and taste it again. Before you use olive oil again, smell it and taste it. And smell and taste the different types of olive oil (yes olives have varietals) and the same varietal olive oil but different brands (who probably use slightly different processes).

Stop and smell all the flowers!

Right now in Buenos Aires all the jasmins are blooming and you can smell this intense jasmin aroma when you pass the plants while walking somewhere.

Another thing to do is to do a wine tasting with essential aromas. You can get essence of rose or many other flowers, flavors, trees, smokes, woods, etc and take these essential oils out when you do a wine tasting.