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The Nose Knows Best at Saint Clair Family Estate

Want to get the most out of every glass of wine? Sniff before you sip, says Saint Clair Family Estate senior winemaker Kyle Thompson, who leads Saint Clair’s in-house palate education programme.

Ever read a wine bottle label and wonder how they come up with all those fancy and delicious sounding flavours? 

(No, winemakers don’t add chocolate, vanilla, passionfruit or truffles during the winemaking process.)

Wine flavours come from the grapes and the winemaking process, which, depending on where the grapes are grown and the methods used by the winemaker, create unique flavour compounds that blend together to produce wines with their own special characteristics. 

And just like most things that get easier with practise, winemakers have to train their brains to recognise the aromas commonly found in wine to describe the complexity of flavour in red and white wines.

Saint Clair Family Estate senior winemaker Kyle Thompson has been sharing his expertise with the wider Saint Clair team as part of the award winning wine company’s Staff Education Programme.

Kyle says the aim of the programme is ensuring all staff have the opportunity to learn about all aspects of wine production, rather than just focussing on their own area of expertise. 

“Sharing our knowledge and experience helps staff make the most of their time here and adds to our collective wisdom, it’s a fun way to share ideas and ensure we keep learning.”

Kyle purchased a wine aroma kit that contains 54 isolated aromas commonly found in wine to help the team’s palate education through a fun game called ‘Nose of the Month’.

“We play a game every Friday smelling certain aromas blind and guessing off the list of 54 aromas,” says Kyle.
 
Participants smell three different aromas each week. Whoever gets the most aromas correct over the month is crowned ‘Nose of the Month’. At the end of the year the monthly winners compete for the highly coveted title of ‘Nose of the Year’.
 
“It’s a great way of training the brain to recognise familiar aromas and force those olfactory brain connections to firm up smell memory and translate them into words,” says Kyle.