Robert Bell's

Wines of Canada

Since 1992

The Sense of Smell

Wine is a complex beverage with a wide array of aromatic compounds. These compounds are responsible for the diverse range of scents we encounter when we smell a glass of wine. By engaging our sense of smell, we can detect various notes, such as fruits, flowers, spices, herbs, earthiness, oak, and more. This aromatic complexity adds depth and character to the wine, providing a multi-layered sensory experience.

Humans can distinguish more than 1 trillion scents, according to new research. The findings show that our sense of smell is far more discriminating than previously thought.

“The message here is that we have more sensitivity in our sense of smell than for which we give ourselves credit. We just don’t pay attention to it and don’t use it in everyday life,” Dr. Keller says.*

One  study claims that there is an approximate 30 percent difference between any two people's sense of smell. So what pepper and wine combination one may enjoy someone else will not.

According to ear, nose and throat specialist Michael Benninger, MD, your nose in particular is one of the most complex and elegant organs in your body. 

Smell, however, doesn’t have any known dimensions. This has made it difficult for researchers to pinpoint how many different scents, or olfactory stimuli, we can distinguish. A study from the 1920s suggested that humans could discern about 10,000 smells—a number far below our other senses.

When it comes to wine tasting, the sense of smell plays a crucial role in detecting the wine’s characteristics. There's two ways we're able to smell an odor. The first is through our nostrils, and the second is through something called the retronasal cavity that sits at the back of our throat. When smelling wine the preferred word s "bouquet or aroma. Countless studies have shown that most of what we perceive as taste actually comes from our ability to smell; researchers estimate that 80% of flavor actually comes from our ability to smell.

The retronasal pathway involves aromas that are contained within the foods we eat. As we chew food, odors are released that travel through the retronasal pathway connecting the throat to the nasal cavity. Once in the nasal cavity, these chemicals are detected by olfactory receptor cells in the nose.

When it comes to Dr Kellers statement that we do not pay attention to our sense smell Wine Sommeliers train to do so,as would a wine judge. train their noses to be able to recognize many unique smells. In fact, smell training can even allow people who have suffered smell loss to recover their sense of smell.

Research has shown us that no two people smell things the same way. Remember wine tasting is a highly personal experience that can greatly vary from person to person.

smell the wine

Medically known as hyperosmia, super smellers are people who have a heightened sense of smell compared to the average person. Some super smellers may be more sensitive to pleasant smells, while others may be more affected by unpleasant odor.

You may have heard the term master of wine. These wine enthusiasts are very rare. have developed exceptional ability to distinguish one wine from another, one region from another, even one vintage from another.  For the majority of us its hard just to distinguish the difference between wines.

it is perfectly normal for you perceive the wine differently than your friend will.

Despite our perception of how powerful the tongue is when discussing taste, it's really quite small in comparison to our ability to smell. Countless studies have shown that most of what we perceive as taste actually comes from our ability to smell; researchers estimate that 80% of flavour actually comes from our ability to smell.

Our smelling ability increases to reach a plateau at about the age of eight, and declines in old age. Some researchers claim that our smell-sensitivity begins to deteriorate long before old age, perhaps even from the early 20s. One experiment claims to indicate a decline in sensitivity to specific odors from the age of 15! But other scientists report that smelling ability depends on the person’s state of mental and physical health, with some very healthy 80-year-olds having the same olfactory prowess as young adults. Women consistently out-perform men on all tests of smelling ability 2.

The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses.  Those with full olfactory function may be able to think of smells that evoke particular memories; the scent of an orchard in blossom conjuring up recollections of a childhood picnic, for example.  This can often happen spontaneously, with a smell acting as a trigger in recalling a long-forgotten event or experience. Research has also shown that a memory can enhance the aroma of an item.

* A team led by Dr. Andreas Keller of Rockefeller University set out to determine the resolution of the human olfactory system by testing how well humans could distinguish mixes of odors. The study was funded in part by NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Results were published in Science on March 21, 2014.

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Welcome to Robert Bell's ! This is a personal website. We do not represent the wine industry or any aspect of the Canadian Government. We have been promoting Canada's wines and wineries since 1992. We do not sell or purchase any products. Please enjoy the website. There is a more detailed sitemap. Your comments are welcome.