In an episode of “Frasier,” Doctors Niles and Frasier Crane begin the show with a blind wine tasting…
Niles: Now, now, let’s move on to number seven.
Frasier: [while blindfolded:] Ahhh… Touch of oak, hint of currant, whisper of…
Frasier’s father enters with his dog, Eddie, on a leash.
Frasier: …what is that? What is that? Oh yes, wet dog!
While amusing in a sitcom, similar scenarios have played out in real life. Because such a big part of wine tasting is connected with a wine’s nose, tasting wine in less-than-ideal locales can unfairly color your judgement of the soundness of a wine. Here are some places you’d best avoid holding a wine tasting…
Where the dog sleeps, cat goes, or hamster scurries: Strong pet odors from dog beds, litter boxes, or small mammal cages can make even the most appealing nose seem foul. If holding a tasting in your living home, make sure there are no trace animal odors lingering in the room or on the furniture where you plan to gather.
Near a restroom: This goes for restrooms inside restaurants, too (though most quality restaurants position their restrooms a good distance from their dining areas). Still, save yourself and your guests embarrassment and disgust. Never hold a tasting within flushing distance.
Near livestock: Though outdoor country wine tastings have increased, tasting wine close to cattle is usually less-than pleasant. What is more, the scent of excrement can imbue a wine’s nose with a convincing “barnyard” aroma, masking the true nose of the wine altogether.
Outside near fast food restaurants: Exhaust from the kitchens of fast food joints, in particular, can be extremely overpowering. It’s hard to get a decent sniff of wine if your nose is bombarded by the scents of big burgers and fries.
Near pools: Almost all pools utilize chlorinated water. Because our sense of smell and taste are connected, having a wine tasting next to a heavily-chlorinated pool can color the wine with a chemical taste. This is very apparent when tasting Zinfandels. Just try taking a sip next to the pool, then take another sip 10 feet away; you’ll be amazed by the difference.
Near smokers: Cigarette smoke can greatly kill the nose of many wines, and can add an artificial “tobacco” hint to some wines.
Within wind distance of a garbage dump: Refer to “Near a restroom,” above.
In a heavily perfumed area: Unplug your whole-room air freshener before you taste. Strong scents of pine, violet, vanilla, etc., will unfairly impact the perceived scent of your wine.
In a moldy room: Aside from obvious health hazards, tasting wine in a pungent, moldy room will not boost its rating.
…You get the idea! To learn more about the nuances of wine and wine tasting, visit our Wine Storage Education Center. The next time you host a wine tasting, be sure to take a good whiff and ask yourself “Is there anything in here that really smells?”