A Wine Teller by Andre Silva

Sensory analysis, smell and social prejudice.

I was here thinking about how much my preferences have changed over the years regarding wines. Wine has always been present in my life. In my home my mother used to consume wine at meals on weekends and also when we received visits. As soon as I reached the legal drinking age, I began my journey into the fabulous and vast world of wine. The object of my analysis is delimited from the moment when wine becomes a common and frequent habit to the present day.

I was born and raised in Brazil, a country that has little tradition in wine, which is considered a luxury product, and its consumption is largely associated with social status. An important point is that wine in Brazil is expensive and not accessible to most of the population, unlike our neighbors Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. However, for those who have money enough, you can find wines from all over the globe.

From this we can make a correlation between the ordinary Brazilian consumer and Rousseau’s character Émile: we were born without preferences for wine and our society corrupts us with concepts that, for the most part, have nothing to do with the quality of the liquid we find inside the bottle. I am talking about social concepts ranging from the price of wine, specific colors, berries aromas to the shape of the bottle. For purposes of restricting the topic to this brief post, I will limit myself to the smell.

So I start with a simple question: How important is the smell of wine? I believe that everyone who starts drinking wine develops the habit of smelling it before drinking. I think this custom is first developed empathically simply by the fact that you begin to do so by trying to copy the constructed social stance of how to taste a wine. Just as you copy the act of swirling the wine glass. However, few can really explain why they do it.

Answering the question, for me the smell is the most important aspect in wine. Because it’s where we find and correlate affective memories and the elements of comparison with flowers, fruits, emotions, experiences, places, etc. I question also how our perception of smell is affected by predefined social constructions and aesthetic patterns? When you get a wine and, even before you open the bottle, you get the information the wine is a “natural” one, do you ever expect that the wine will have unwanted aromas?

Well, I need to confess that my perception of what a good wine is has changed a lot over the last 15 years. At first, when I heard that was a natural wine, I already imagined an unwanted smell of pasture. The fact is that I insisted and learned to understand and also to appreciate not so common aromas in wine. This change was motivated mainly by knowledge, that is, by understanding why a certain aspect of smell or taste is present in a wine and also the history of its evolution.

Today, I can say that I do not wrinkle my nose when I hear that I will taste a wine made from organic grapes, with natural and indigenous yeast. The world of wine is vast and this massification of taste and smell is extremely harmful, as it tends to extinguish everything that deviates from the industry’s predefined aesthetic standard.

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