For many years I have been ultra sensitive to smells, aromas, odors (what ever you want to call them) and this has been fantastic in my new life making wine. Working, years ago, in the Art Department of a medium size University meant there were some pretty interesting days when I wanted to run out of the building as an overwhelming stench seeped into my office. Walking through campus on my lunch break I could usually find a haven in the small gardens in the crooks of buildings, protected from the wind and sun, where the abundance of flora calmed my nerves, relaxed my muscles and reminded me that there are smells worth pursuing. In fact, aroma therapy helps me with fibromyalgia flare ups to some degree for just that reason.
During our crazy floor remodel last month we drove by a mass of yellow flowers along a road two blocks from our house. My Hubby stopped, backed up telling me that I HAD to smell these flowers. The cement wall we were on top of is pretty high before the ground slopes away from it into a large pond; the flowers were at road level. They looked like wild mustard on steroids and smelled like buttered popcorn. With his love of buttery, oaky Chardonnays, this plant reminded him of this and he wanted another opinion of the smell. There is one house beside the pond, more across the street, but nothing close enough to dominate the fragrance coming from the plants and yes, in fact, they do smell like buttered popcorn fresh out of the popper. Our curiosity aroused, I set out to determine what this oddity could be.
The most information came from Texas, where apparently this plant is very invasive and is considered a non-native, noxious weed: Rapistrum rugosum more commonly called Bastard Cabbage, turnip weed, giant mustard among other similar names firmly puts it in the Brassicaceae (Mustard Family). Nowhere did I find anything referencing the smell this plant has, odd as it seemed, despite that being OUR driving reason to identify the plant.
Whether your nose is super sensitive or you can hardly smell at all, there are still aromas that you like and others you don’t. When you plan to go wine tasting or out to a nice meal, tone down the fragrance you put on or leave it off completely (perfume, cologne, lotion, etc.) because although you may love the smell it will interfere with your ability to smell the wines you are tasting or drinking. There is the possibility that you will also prevent those around you from appreciating the aromas in their glass. Our tasting room is off of the lobby of the lovely Marcus Whitman Hotel where guests aren’t necessarily visiting to wine taste. There have been visitors that I smelled coming through the lobby from the opposite side of the hotel. Before the Spring tourist season gets in gear the hotel deep cleans everything; the chemicals they use permeate the place for days making me wish I could bolt from the tasting room as I wanted to bolt from my office years ago. When the City repaved the roads around us the smell of asphalt was too strong for me to work. I am not tasting, but I feel for those who are.
Whether you are a newbie to wine tasting or an experienced pro smell is an integral part of enjoying wine. You can just sit back, sniff, sip, savor and repeat or you can determine all that you recognize in the wine; enjoyment comes in many forms. Consider this as you prepare for your next round of tasting or your next dinner with wine and those around you will appreciate it. Cheers!