About 50% of a wine’s taste lies in its scent. Sorry ladies, but at that fancy restaurant, you’ll never be poured a whole glass of that expensive wine to get your lips around. A good sommelier would never fill your glass with more than two ounces, as the rest of the space lets the aroma settle in the glass.
Before you taste the merchandise, swirl the wine rapidly to evaporate the alcohol. Don’t worry though, evaporating the alcohol doesn’t actually take away from the alcoholic content; it merely allows the aroma to fill the glass, so you can get a good whiff. Now, place your nose inside the rim and take sharp, multiple sniffs.
According to Juliette Pope, Beverage Director of Gramercy Tavern, a popular restaurant in New York, “You should be looking for the possibility of a ‘corked’ bottle, in which case the aroma would be very musty, almost wet, cardboard-damp basement smell, which would indicate that the wine is ‘flawed’.” So if you’re getting mold or metallic rust from your bottle, it’s a no go. Return it and ask for another bottle.
The aroma of a wine is often used as a yardstick for judging the authenticity, quality and maturity of a wine. In fact, many wine experts can actually tell a wine’s make and age just by having a good whiff.