“Can you train your nose?” inquires wine writer Natasha Hughes in the November edition of Decanter Magazine. Moreover, can people that professionally rely on their sense of smell accurately identify aromas outside their field of expertise? Three experts, a sommelier, a tea buyer, and a perfumier, were put to the test with tea, wine, and perfume samples.
The sommelier, Mathieu Gaignon, doesn't think he was born with extrordinary skills. “I believe the sense of smell is one you can train,” he says. “The trick is to find a way of associating an image with a particular smell.” For him, detecting the aromas of the perfume samples was easier than for the tea samples, which were more subtle, although he ended up with the same score for the tea as for the wine.
The tea buyer, Edward Eisler, “learned about tea just by being interested in it.” “When you're focused and you drink a lot of tea, you can pick up the subtleties,” he says. Although he acknowledged not being into perfume, he got the top score for the perfume and tea samples.
The perfumier, Linda Pilkington, was never formally trained, although she admits that perfume bottles was a childhood obsession. For her, the way we interpret aromas is personal. “Sometimes a smell reminds you of something personal to you, and it does not smell like that to someone else, ” she says. She thought that the aromas of the tea samples were the hardest to capture.
My conclusion is that our sense of smell should benefit from regular exercise. So next time you pour yourself a glass of wine, close your eyes, sniff, and enjoy!
Technorati tags: wine food & drink