Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Just Sniffin' -- Outside/Inside

Over the last year or so, I've noticed that a wine's nose is much more easily discernable outside my house than inside. When I really want to analyze and/or savor a wine's nose, I go out on to my front porch or back deck for a little "quality time" with the glass.

I think the reason may be that inside spaces, whether a house, a restaurant, or some other building, have their own unique baseline "ambient" smell. Ever notice that first smell as you walk in your house after being away several days? Each of the places I've lived has had a different characteristic baseline smell. But I only notice it when I've been away for a while. I think we tend to get used to it and, like ambient noise, only notice it when we go without it for a period of time.

Granted, I live in Houston, where people generally tend to keep their houses hermetically sealed nearly all year round to keep out that sticky humidity we have grown to know and love, but I think I remember the same phenomemon when I lived in Connecticut in the 1990s and had meals where we drank wine al fresco. So I don't think it's just a Houston phenomenon.

Nor do I think it's solely due to temperature differences. Sure, the hotter the surface of the wine becomes, the more volatile and noticeable its aromatic components become, but I have found the outside/inside dichotomy to occur even when the temperature is the same outside or in, or even is a bit lower outside.

Try it yourself. Swirl and sniff inside. Take note of the intensity and detail. Then go outside and try again. I bet you'll get more out of it. It's pretty neat.

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