Take a deep breath. No, into your wine glass. Can you smell that? It’s spring.
Yes, the first day of spring was yesterday, which had me thinking — I know I’ve heard of wines having a “floral nose.” But how much can wine really smell like flowers?
Turns out, it can quite a bit. Moscato, Gewurztraminer and torrontes are among the most-aromatic white wines, according to Jonna Brandon at The Twisted Vine; shiraz, syrah, lacrima and schioppettino are the top picks when it comes to reds. (And, if you’re so inclined, Fiano di Avellino has a spearmint scent — but doesn’t taste of it.)
Some have just a whiff of floral notes that, among others, the discerning nose might not even register. Others are so strong and clear that anyone would notice them. For the most part, though, the “wines with floral aromatics” — as the owner of the Grandview shop calls them — are minor grapes that many people haven’t heard of. To an attuned nose, the scents can range from earthy geranium to sweet orange blossom and lilies.
If you’re interested in sniffing out this phenomenon for yourself, I would suggest you sample one like I did: the Kerria Lacrima di Morro D’Alba ($17 at The Twisted Vine). Brandon had me sold when she likened the scent to roses and lilies, and she couldn’t have been more right.
This one was so convincingly floral-smelling, I wasn’t sure it would taste like wine. But it did — dry and more spicy than fruity, but still light on the tongue. Plus, I loved that it was a pleasure to inhale with each sip (swirl it and allow it to settle first to get the best read).
How wine comes to have that characteristic is up for debate, Brandon said — some winemakers think it’s influenced by the soil, while others say it has to do with how ripe the grapes are when they’re picked.
We’ll leave that debate to the professionals. In the meantime, care to cheers the start of spring with a glass of wine?