Smelling in Stereo
Here at Creation we recently had the pleasure of welcoming Professor Gabriel Lepousez in our midst. Gabriel holds a PhD in Neuroscience from the Sorbonne University and is an expert on sensory perception and brain plasticity.
A week ago, our team joined a masterclass with Gabriel on the subject of ‘Sensory Perception in Wine’, and among other things, we learned how we smell in stereo. What does this mean? Our nostrils operate slightly independently of each other, ‘filtering’ differently the numerous volatile molecules of a given wine and thus conveying to the brain a slightly different image of the wine.
At any given moment, you can observe that one nostril is more ‘open’ than the other; the airflow is more intense on one side than the other. To measure this, place your index finger on your upper lip and breathe out. Instead of your finger, you can use a small mirror or the glass of your cellphone to see which nostril has the largest airflow and generate the largest surface of condensation. This asymmetry alternates every two to five hours, the opened nostril becomes closed and vice versa. This phenomenon is known as the ‘nasal cycle’ and results from the partial and reciprocal congestion and decongestion of our nasal cavities.
This asymmetry causes each nostril to be optimally sensitised to different odours. Wherever the airflow is dominant, you may smell more top notes, more aromatic fruit and floral aromas. On the other nostril, it will be the baser, tertiary aromas in the wine such as vanilla, spice and oak. Move a glass of the Creation barrel-fermented Chardonnay from one nostril to the other and you will appreciate how this can change your perception of aroma in wine, helping you to deconstruct the complexity of the bouquet in finer detail. We’d love to demonstrate this tasting tip to you on your next visit!
Carolyn Martin – Co-owner and Creative Director, Creation Wines