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smelling wineWine changes us. Especially when we develop enough tasting skill to perceive its subtleties. Of course, other arts change us as well. But wine requires more training and self-development than painting or music. The basic features of a painting—color, shapes, lines—can be discerned by anyone. No special effort is required to hear basic melodies or feel rhythm. The visual and auditory field is just there for us demanding little effort.

Aside from its properties as a liquid, the apprehension of a wine’s features requires more effort: deliberate focus, rituals such as swirling or sniffing to unleash aromas, and some training and experience before the flavors and aromas will appear delineated. We have to learn to individuate aromas, sense their relationships, and compare them with other wines which then becomes a storehouse of examples that deepens our ability to have further sensory experience.

We learn through sensation, our sensibility continually shaped by each new wine or new vintage. By paying attention, building skill, and communicating what we taste, we expand the possibilities of human experience and unlock more of what wine can do and be, enriching our lives through enriching that part of the world that wine occupies.

People who ignore taste cut themselves off from a whole domain of self-development and world development, and culture suffers.