Q: Dear Rachel,
My weakness in tasting is uncovering the florals...do you believe in those smelling kits they sell online?
A: When I blind taste a wine and sense a floral component, I'm always happy to get such an important clue AS to what the wine could bE.
For tasting kits, I have used the wine faults version, which I found very useful. It's challenging to find example wines demonstrating the different types of faults.
I haven’t purchased the kits with a wider selection of notes, as I believe they are very expensive and the flavours/scents can be found at a variety of sources. Of course, if your budget allows, and you want to try out the kit, have fun and let me know what you think of it!
As you meet to blind taste wines each week, consider bringing along some of the following supplies to nose after you taste.
Floral ideas: my first stop would be the florist or market, but I’m including some other ideas here for you too. The flower notes to try and smell are: jasmine, rose, elderflower, citrus blossom, lavender, chamomile, & violets. Yes, I'm the strange woman closing my eyes and smelling each of the flowers at the store :O
Beyond the grocery or market, I’d pop in to an essential oil store, plant store, or perfumier (such as Jo Malone, or a perfumer that specializes in individual notes) to smell or taste the following: Elderflower cordial/syrup or St Germain liqueur, chamomile tea, dried lavender sachets, orange/lemon plants in bloom, rosewater, & candied violets. For the scent of garrigue, try dried herbes de Provence (the kind with lavender flowers in it!).
Liqueurs, essential oils, and distillations do a nice job of capturing these floral scents in isolation, so if you can't find the fresh version these are a great source (for example, it's much easier to find fresh citrus blossoms in winter than summer).
When I smell a wine, I find that the floral note will often be the ‘top note’ or first item I note on a wine showing white floral character, and on reds showing violets/lavender that I catch it at the beginning of the nose or at the end of the palate.
Here are some example floral notes - feel free to add your suggestions in the comments and I'll include them here:
~Prosecco (Glera): Elderflower / Wisteria
~Moscato Bianco: Citrus Blossom
~Rhône reds: Herbes de Provence
~Brunello (Sangiovese): Violet / Lavender
~Gewurztraminer: Rosewater / Rose
~Riesling: Jasmine / Chamomile / Elderflower
~Torrontes: Floral Soap