One of the biggest challenges I have with my job (state of my liver notwithstanding) is to be able to describe a wine’s smell and taste using standardized terms. The challenge lies with the fact that most terms or items used to describe wines are things we don’t have (and never grew up with) in the Philippines.
Gooseberry? Forest floor? Raspberries aren’t even indigenous to us!
So, I’ll share with you a secret: I’ve never seen a gooseberry.
Before I hear the sound of violent reactions from you guys (how the *$%# did she say that %^&@!# wine smelled like that?!?), I want to share with you how I can say with conviction that a wine smells like it has hints of things I’ve never seen before (and sound credible, clinical, and bloody snobby): the Aromaster.
The Aromaster is a kit that comes with several ampoules of scents commonly found in wines. Constantly smelling the vials allows you to commit common wine aromas to memory. They include smells that are not that familiar to the average Pinoy (hawthorn, sandalwood, tree moss, etc.).
This, for me, levels the playing field in wine evaluation. I mean, while “chico” and “kamias” are familiar to us, including that in a standardised European wine evaluation (or telling that to a room full of wine snobs) may be a bit bizarre.
It also includes a wheel of scents and/or flavours you can commonly find in a stereotypical wine grape (example: a Cabernet Sauvignon would smell a bit like blackberry and blackcurrant, etc.).
Hint: familiarizing yourself with the scents commonly found in certain wine grapes allows you to figure out what the wine is in a blind tasting (sorry, sommeliers don’t have magical powers!).
You can also use this to get familiar with the aroma of wine faults (corked, nail polish remover, vinegar, etc.). Smelling indications of wine faults in your wine normally means that your wine has gone bad.
Watch out though, the vial for rotten egg is gross!
There’s even a game included in the kit for endless hours of pseudo-intellectual drunken entertainment.
I hope you get to enjoy it as much as I do. Cheers!