Of the five sensory faculties, smell – or the scent of something – expresses a great deal. This is particularly true when it comes to wine. In fact, even novice wine drinkers will smell a wine several times before tasting it because they can tell a lot about the wine’s flavor from its aroma.

The best way to identify a wine’s aroma is to associate commonly used “wine words” with the flavors you detect. As you savor your wine, you may be able to pick out the flavors, but are unable to associate the right word with the flavor. The best thing to do in this scenario is to list out the common flavors usually found in the red or white wine. As you consider each flavor, you will eventually be able to connect one to the wine you taste. With continued practice, you will be able to identify specific flavors while tasting.

Some common flavors found in red wine:
Plum, berry, cherry, prune, fig, raising
Dill, sage, eucalyptus, her, mint, nutty, asparagus, green-bean, tea
Chocolate, tobacco, tea-leaf, nutty, coffee, caramel, mushroom, smoke, toast, cinnamon, nutmeg
Spice, clove, anise, cassis, licorice, cedar, vanilla, pine, oak, pepper, pumpkin spice

Some common flavors found in white wine:
Lime, citrus, orange zest, grapefruit
Peach, nectarine, apple, banana, melon, apricot
Tropical fruit, (mango, papaya, passion fruit), white flowers, fresh grass, hay
Honey, roasted nut, caramel

Unfortunately, if you are limited to drinking more affordable wines, then you may be compromising aroma for economic cost. But investing in a wine decanter can greatly improve both the taste and aroma of your wine. Decanting increases to the oxygen exposure to your wine, which in turn, improves the taste by softening astringent tannins and letting fruit and floral aromas emerge. When purchasing a decanter, you need to consider how long a wine takes to decant. For example, full-bodied red wines with high tannin need longer to decant; therefore, a decanter with a wide base will increase the amount of oxygen and decant the wine faster. If you are currently in the market for a decanter, here are some considerations (based on wine type) to help you decide which type is best:

Full Bodied Red Wines: use a decanter with a wide base.
Medium Bodied Red Wines: use a medium-sized decanter.
Light Bodied Red Wines: serve in a small to medium sized decanter that has been chilled.
White and Rose Wine: decanting is not necessary, however, you can use a small, chilled decanter.

Essentially, aroma is what gives wine its enduring appeal. If paying attention to the scent of wine helps us to find, drink, and remember wines that we enjoy, then remember to inhale your wine’s fragrant scent before taking your next sip.