Scent – A Gift and A Curse – James Melendez


I was recently in Denver and I was there for one of my first cousins birthdays–we were actually born within a week of each other.  While I was in the Mile High City I was with another cousin and I asked about his experience with Colorado wine. The conversation went immediately to my nose-palate and I hadn’t thought about that in a while.  My cousin gave me a very nice complement of my palate.  We then talked about food likes and dislikes–clearly for me–eggs are not a friend of mine.

JPM at Coors Field

What don’t I like about eggs?

Well let me start –why I don’t like eggs:

1) the taste

2) the smell and then

3) texture – in any state.  So without a doubt I don’t like eggs.  And when I say I don’t like eggs to almost anyone–it is a big deal “you DON’T like eggs?!?!!!”  I get it only me and a handful of people on the planet don’t like eggs.


It was up until half a decade a go that I started to eat cheese.  And well…it was the smell for the most part and in some cheeses — the taste–anything too strong was hard for me to swallow.  I am surrounded by wine and cheese became something I forced myself to eat.  I don’t eat the ripe or strong smelling kind.  I like the more mild kind.  And I know it is abnormal I really don’t crave cheese.

Fast forward to this week (first week of November 2016) I had dental work planned.  I have a very fantastic dentist and team and they did do a great job to bring my fears down.  My fear on this visit was The Drill.  Not worried about the anesthesia (actually I am impressed how amazing it works), not worried about vibration or sound or splash of water….  I am nearly terrified of ….. you guess it SMELL.   There are inorganic smells at the dentist office– while not a favourite–it is manageable.  What lifts me out of my seat is the organic material from drilling.  This is a smell that I cannot take–it makes me nauseous.  I alerted my dentist and his assistant and they assured they would keep a good supply or water and draining and voila – it worked.

Smell good or bad is something that is a gift and a curse.  When I think of the dental drill I think back to when I was 4 or 5 having dental work and the dentist’s drill is smell that I dread and something that I cannot forget hence the curse.

But the gift is many fold–and luckily this story is on the positive side.  I have an aunt who has a plum orchard and in the Fall time I remember when I was 7 and I walked her orchard.  The sun was in the east as it was a clear, very cool morning, the crisp and golden leaves gave texture and sense of place and some of the fallen fruit melds with the earth and help to create a unique scent.   The smell was evocative… and lingering.  It was a scent that haunts me to this day.  It was a scent of spice, leather, underbrush, cardamom, and dried flowers.  I thought this is the prototypical smell of autumn and the country.

I told my aunt that a rich vocabulary on scent is important especially as it relates to wine and I told her what her orchard means to me.


My mother’s rose garden is particularly important to me… no… hauntingly important.  My mother’s rose garden faced the western and sunny skies of New Mexico.  I would water the roses nearly every afternoon in the dry summer heat.  I noted that each rose bush and especially the darker flowers–the rich reds ones were the spiciest and most evocative.  When I think of the wine descriptor that I use of red rose petal I am actually referring to the beautiful deep red roses from my mother’s rose garden.  They gave a hauntingly beautiful scent–and the scent would change through warm afternoon becoming cool summer evening.

I appreciated the good scents of my development but I also assumed everyone treasured what I treasured or even perceived the scents that I perceived.

I was in Champagne in September of this year and the smell of cave is both subtle and impressionable.  Each cave of it’s chalk interior, moisture and large ensemble of bottles is an environment that creates a rustic, moist and over all very pleasant smell.

Scent from wine is so variable and rich and I love that I can smell the complexities of many wines and varieties.  Smelling place and style are also part of the equation.  And I think for me at least it is to continue and explore the world of scent and to create that cognitive map of pleasant smells and create a library so to speak of these references.  I like Ian Cauble reference to Mosel Riesling’s scent of being like a freshly opened can of tennis balls.  Or James Halliday referencing Australian Shiraz as smelling like boot polish.  I dig both reference and get it and appreciate it.

While I don’t need to get the tour of a wine making facility —I still love stepping into a cave or barrel room–it’s a reunion of scents that are always welcoming—never tiring.

What are your thoughts on scent?



James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2016 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

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About James Melendez

I have two blogs on this descriptor page--I use to be able to make separate. My fragrance blog is to express my thoughts on fragrance. A passion in addition to wine. I think it is a stellar component to the senses and that which I am in love with. I hope you like both blogs. My "wine" blog also incorporates those categories intimately involved - wine, food, travel and lifestyle. We all need food and water to survive but we need wine to nourish our soul. My favourite varietals are Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Grenache, Syrah-Shiraz.. for my red wines. And I often circle back to these varieties and sometimes they are my home varieties. The journey of wine is an historical footnote also marked by viti-viniculture and artistry that makes this beverage a living one. I have worked professionally in the wine trade and have loved all aspects; marketing, history, science and art of wine. © 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.
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