Home Winemaking – the Nose has it! #AtoZChallenge with “N”

Welcome to the World of Winemaking! I’m having fun alphabetizing the home winemaking process – here are the links going backwards for your convenience, in case you missed any:

A for Aromas, Acidity and Appearance
B for Barrels, Bottles and Blackberry Wine
C for Color, Clarity, Carboys and Cherry Wine
D for Decanting and Decanters
E for Equipment
F for Fermentation
G for Glass and Grape
H for Harvest
I for Infusion
for Jeroboam and Jug
K for Kabinett
L for Leaf, Label and Lees
M for Merlot, Muscat and Must

Today’s letter is “N”, so we’ll talk about Nose.

Nose: term used to designate the smell of a wine. The ‘nose’ of a wine is the whole of aromas you perceive when sticking your own nose into a glass of wine.

A wine tasting term, “Nose” is used to describe how wine smells in the glass. Different wine varietals produce different aromas. The nose is also affected by how the wine is made and stored.

There are three levels of wine aromas. Primary wine aromas come from the fruit, secondary wine aromas are a result of the fermentation process and tertiary wine aromas are derived from the aging process. For example, oak fermentation imparts spicy, smoky or vanilla aromas, while malolactic fermentation results in rich, buttery aromas.

The nose of wine is critical for tasting purposes. There is a set technique in being able to differentiate the aromas a wine imparts. During a tasting, wine is swirled in the glass to release the aroma vapors. The nose is then placed into the glass and with several, quick sniffs, the aromas become apparent. Care must be taken to not prolong inhaling, as the aromas quickly blend and become indiscernible.

When it comes to smelling, we take a distant second place to dogs and cats. Still, we humans can train our sense of smell, and you don’t have to be an expert wine taster to learn to sniff out the differences among wines.

The aroma of Cabernet Sauvignon and the closely related Merlot grape, for example, often reminds me of cedar wood and pine needles mingled with a good fruit smell reminiscent of currants.

Some add hints that wine tasters call “vegetal:” green olives, green peppers, tobacco leaves or grass.

Aging the wine in oak may add touches of vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and almonds. Extended bottle aging may lend a toasty quality and impart earthy scents as variable as mushrooms, old leather, roses and wildflowers.

Other grapes have their own trademark aromas: Zinfandel often evokes berries. Pinot Noir, the fine grape of Burgundy, may recall violets and spice. The pungently floral quality of freshly ground black pepper signals Syrah, the French Rhone grape.

Among whites, Chardonnay recalls crisp, ripe apples and may add notes of butter, coconut, figs and other tropical fruits, particularly if it’s aged in oak.

Riesling, the queen of German grapes, may evoke apples, too, and sometimes citrus fruit, canteloupe and pine.

Sauvignon Blanc often shows a grassy smell and sometimes grapefruit.

Chenin Blanc reminds me of melons and, occasionally, orange blossoms. A smell of peaches identifies Muscat and Gewurztraminer; the latter may add elusive spice.

One thing makes common scents: Smell is important to the wine taster. Much of what we think is taste really comes through our noses. If you don’t believe it, try to enjoy a wine – or a meal – the next time you have a bad head cold.


Winemaking is so much fun – at least for me – and am tickled every time I give the wine I make as gifts to friends and family who love drinking it as much as I love making it. While we go through this alphabetical series on winemaking, if you have any burning questions, be sure to ask them in the comments below, and I’ll reply there – and maybe even highlight your specific question(s) in a future post!

Thanks for joining me in this fun adventure!

This entry was posted in A-Z Challenge, Wine, Wine Making, Winemaking and tagged , , , , , by StacyUncorked. Bookmark the permalink.

About StacyUncorked

After 20+ years in the Corporate World and years of infertility, Stacy was surprised when Princess Nagger made her miraculous appearance - deciding to forgo the career and stay home was a no-brainer. As if her hands weren't full enough, 8 years later she and her husband added Little Dude through adoption, adding a whole new dimension (of crazy) to their family and even more sleepless nights. When she’s not refereeing kids, dogs and cats, she loves to write, hence the reason she decided to start her little blog, and because she never got a baby book to mark milestones, this was the next best thing. She also enjoys doing reviews and giveaways for products she or her family would willingly use and can stand behind. She loves to cook and try new techniques to turn ordinary into extraordinary. Crafty by nature, she takes on a lot of unique projects and enjoy seeing the end result. Her favorite, of course, is making her award winning wine out of fruits and grapes. Experiments with water currently underway.
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9 thoughts on “Home Winemaking – the Nose has it! #AtoZChallenge with “N”

  1. My nose for wine is not nearly as sensitive as yours, yet even i can smell the differences in some wines. Smell makes all the difference in how things taste.

  2. Stacy, I am afraid I have to turn my nose up to the wine since I’m not a connoisseur or consumer of wine. The closest I get to wine is Welch’s grape juice which I don’t mind holding under my nose or to enjoy the delicious, unique nodes swishing across my palette before its descension to my tummy. But, I am learning a little bit about the art of wine making. 🙂 Good job, my friend!

    ~Curious as a Cathy
    Art Sketching Through the Alphabet “N” (Nightingale) + Monday Mewsic Moves Me

    • You’re so funny, Cathy! I love Welch’s grape juice, too! And some of the fruit wines I make, people comment it’s like drinking grape juice – of course the alcohol effect sneaks up on them…heh! Thank you for following along on this series even if it’s not your forte – you are an awesome friend! 🙂

  3. hahahaha Cathy kills me… bwahahaha Welches??? Good one!!! Anyway, great job my friend… but where’s you music? Did I miss it??? Guess I better look around. Personally I think N is for NUMMY!!!!!!! 🙂 Big hugs oh and if you have a theme for our 4M please send it over or leave in a comment. BIG HUGS Hope you and yours had a fantastic EASTER!!!

    • You crack me up, Marie! And I’m glad you also found the music! 😉 Maybe before the A-Z challenge is over I’ll finally figure out a conducive way to combine the two posts instead of doing two separate ones – it’d be less work for me, no? 😉

  4. Pingback: Home Winemaking – ‘Z’ for Zymology, Zest and Zinfandel! Wrapping up the #AtoZChallenge | Stacy Uncorked