What Complicates Your Ability to Smell Wine

Image attributed to SOMM: Into the Bottle (2015)

Two of the most common complications when you smell wine are adaptation and cross adaptation. A good example of adaptation is when Apple founder Steve Jobs worked at Atari he did not bath for days. Steve didn’t believe he smelled bad because he had “adapted to his own smell”. Steve is a genius but he could no longer smell his own “body odor” because he had adapted. His co-workers knew otherwise. So if you have smelled coffee or hot chocolate before you go wine tasting, you won’t be able to identify those aromas when you start wine tasting. As you taste wine you adapt to the aroma’s in the wine so you can no longer smell them. If you cook fish in your kitchen and then go outside to garden for half an hour and then come back into your house, you notice it smells like fish. While you were cooking the fish you adapted to the smell while you were cooking.

Cross adaptation occurs most commonly in a wine tasting room when a visitor is wearing strong perfume or has been smoking a cigar or cigarette. The aromas the visitor brings keeps you from experiencing the aromas in your wine because your sense of smell adapted to their aromas.

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