Hello, bonjour, and welcome to your new Bonner Private Wines video. I often say that wine tasting is one of the very few activities in life when you have to use pretty much all your senses, your six senses, to not only assess the quality of the beverage, but also to really enjoy it fully. Today, in this video, I want to tell you about two things.
First, what is the difference between what we call aromas, taste and flavors? Those three terms often get confused, mixed up or used interchangeably. So I want to clarify that. And secondly, I'd like to discuss how we use our other senses than just the smell and the taste during our so-called tasting experience. Let's explain…
Aroma Vs. Taste
Let's focus first on the two of your senses that we use while sipping vino.
The taste and the smell as you probably know, the senses of taste and smell are performed in two different locations on your body, in your body. The taste, strictly speaking, only happens in your mouth — did I show my nose? No, the taste is in the mouth. The tongue. We have receptors on the tongue that can analyze five characteristics of whatever gets in contact with it: the sweetness, the saltiness, the bitterness, the acidity and the umami.
The smell only happens in your nose. The aromas of a wine evaporate in your mouth, helped by the alcohol that has a low temperature of evaporation and also helped by the heat from your tongue and your palate. That warms up the wine. These aromas, through the back of your mouth, make their way up to your nose where specific receptors can smell what they look like, what they smell like.
There are no receptors able to smell things in your mouth. Zero. It all gets analyzed in the nose. So whether a wine smells like strawberry or banana is strictly due to the smell of these volatile compounds called aromas that are able to evaporate out of the wine. On the other hand, there are zero receptors in the nose for salt, sugar, acidity and other things.
So the taste only happens in your mouth and is due to molecules that cannot evaporate, that are strictly dissolved and stuck in the liquid. That's what makes the clear distinction between the taste of the wine and its aromas. Chemically speaking, very different. Anatomically speaking, there is no crossover between those two totally different things.
What Are Flavors Then?
That said, the information related to the taste coming from your mouth and the information about the aromas coming from your nose, both get sent to your brain through neurons and your nervous system and get analyzed up there. And that's where your brain mixes up and blends both information, making it a little hard to know what's exactly what. If you taste something very acidic, your brain will more easily think of aromas of lemon or other acidic fruits like raspberry, while if it's sweet, you think more easily, make an association in your mind, with fruits that are very sweet, like melon or lychee, for example. What we call flavors then are the combination of both taste and aroma together. We have taste, aromas and flavors are the combination of those two — of both.
The confusion, for a big part comes from our vocabulary. In English, there are three nouns to describe a wine aromas or the smell, taste and flavors. Three nouns. But there's only two verbs smell and taste. Smell is clear. You see, this wine smells like vanilla, but taste is vague as a word, as a verb, it encompasses interchangeably, though three different sensations. You can say this wine tastes sweet, but you can also say this wine tastes like banana.
While banana clearly is not a taste, it's a flavor. But there's no verb to say this Wine flavors like banana might exist in some languages, but not in English. We're lacking words to easily and perfectly describe what we feel because this vocabulary was created before people really understood or were interested in any of these concepts.
But now what about other senses that we use while tasting wine?
Yes, indeed. As I said, we use all of our six senses to enjoy wine, although hearing is the one that we clearly use the least. This sound of a cork popping or the wine flowing in the glass is as much as you get, but it's a good primer for what's to come next. Next is, of course, the eyesight that we use to get a better feel for what type of wine we're going to be tasting.
The color, the density, the Is it a young or an old wine? Is it light? Is it going to be big? We can start guessing just at looking at a wine and it's important in the experience.
Then we use taste and smell as we've just talked about, but we also use our sense of touch. Indeed, we feel first the temperature of a liquid.
This one looks pretty cold, which greatly impacts our perception of a vino. A cold wine feels unnatural. It freezes our receptors so we don't taste the sweetness or the acidity very well. While a warm wine will generally taste rather disgusting, we obviously have dedicated receptors in your mouth to feel the temperature of things on your palate that have nothing to do, those receptors, with the ones used for tasting on your tongue.
We also feel the oiliness on the palate, the texture, and that sings to specific receptors that we have on your palate. Again, that allows us to feel pressure like the one we have on our skin, the same type, and in our muscles as well. We have them in our mouth.
We sense the astringency of tannins that tightens the inside of our mouth. When we have harsh red wine, for example, we feel the heat from alcohol that inflames our palate. When it's a high alcohol wine, we may even feel some spiciness as well. If it's a spicy or peppery wine, like a Syrah with a sensation that may resemble what spicy chilies delivers. All these extra sensations that we perceive are completely independent from taste or aromas are called, technically, there are somesthetic sensations called hot, tannic, or stringent, alcoholic, spicy, oily, thin, sparkly.
Even all these words describe sensations that are related to our sense of touch. We touch, we feel by touching the wine. No one really knows what is our sixth sense. I was just teasing you there. It can be nothing like it doesn't exist if you don't believe in it, or it can be everything that makes you perceive things that don't physically exist.
Is it your imagination? And it can be anything you want. So let me tell you what I think the sixth sense is for wine tasting. Your sixth sense is whether you like a wine or not, because at the end of the day, you can analyze it deeply and slowly and describe it with as much details as you want.
All that matters at the end of the day is whether you like it or not. But on top of that, the sixth sense, I think, is knowledge or how you know about different regions, different grapes, the climate, the soil, the winemaking, etc. that helps you understand better all the information provided by your five other senses, how the combination of flavors with the texture, the soft or harsh tannins, the power of the alcohol, etc. all of this forms, with knowledge, an image in your mind that can allow you to perceive things like the nature of the soil in the vineyard. You can tell the difference in the wine between clay and sand. You can tell things like the age of a bottle of wine through its texture and the flavors. Knowledge is our sixth sense for a wine, and it allows us to perceive invisible aspects of what's just apparent from the color, the flavor, the taste.
The knowledge allows you to go deeper and see what sounds, what looks invisible. And that's specifically that sixth sense that I'm trying to train for you to improve, for you making those videos in the knowledge. I'll leave it here for today on this final note. Thanks for watching. I hope you enjoyed the video and we'll see you soon, as always, in the wonderful world of wine.