Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Here's the first of what will hopefully become a regular series of posts on this website. It's another idea I've had for a while but a recent comment helped speed up its introduction.

Basically, born out of my personal search for calibration, 'Smell Check' will be spent comparing the scent of various fruits, foods, etc, with a wine style they're commonly associated with. Its purpose is to see whether I can actually draw myself a correlation, whilst getting better tuned to what it is I'm writing about here. There will be nothing scientific about it - no solutions, distillations, titrations - nothing of the sort, just the simple apparatus of my own, human nose. As we know, however, the human nose itself is subject to great subjectivity. Comparison of taste will not come into Smell Check.

Like everything on this blog Smell Check is a work in progress, and any feedback in regards to how it may be improved will be greatly appreciated.

For the first Smell Check I've gone with pears and pinot gris. I've selected a trio of pears; your basic packham, a rather old green nashi pear that seems to have gone yellow and a brown nashi pear. To me, due to their water-like nature, nashi pears are the style I typically associate with pinot gris.

The pears are chopped up into small segments, placed into a wine tasting glass, then if required, they are gently muddled, with a drop of water or two added to help release aroma (neither was required here).

Then, I compare aromas; pear vs gris. For the record, Climbing's 2011 Orange region Pinot Gris is the wine, and yes, it does say on the back label it contains notes of pear.

The comparative results

Packham pear: Were this a blind sniffing I might just call this apple, as there's something rather green and crisp about it. It's clearly pear though, yet it has a much sharper (and livelier) aroma than the softer smelling gris. Honestly, I'm not drawing a huge (if any) correlation here.

Brown nashi pear: Immediately softer and juicier than the packham and conversely, smells much more like the gris. There's also a sweetish edge here, which I also find in the gris. A similar intensity too. The likeness exists, without having to use too much imagination. We could be onto a winner here...

Green nashi pear: Has a funkier edge and not as aromatic as the brown pear, which could just be its age. It does however, have a dirtier scent, robbing it of crystal clear water-like clarity, which is common to the gris. Definitely some similarities here.

In conclusion
I must say colour alone has something to say here (look at the photo), but it's easy to see why people draw a line of similarity between the scent of pinot gris and pears. There's a similar softness, juiciness and intensity, and of course, character. This particular pinot gris drew a far greater resemblance to nashi pears, especially brown, but I can see how other, less worked pinot gris might smell more like other members of the pear family. Nashi pears and gris? It's there for me!


  1. n.b. The missus came home, saw the glasses on the bench and picked them up and smelled them herself - completely agreeing with all of my original assessments. We don't get that too often round here!

    Somewhat fittingly, we couldn't agree on the wine itself...


  2. Chris,

    Curiosity and calibration can be dangerous, like falling down Alice's rabbit hole. . . Does the skin smell different from the core for instance, or what about a super ripe pear on a summers day. . .

  3. Excellent and rational insight as usual Ed. At the very least I was messing around with 3 different pears of 3 very different levels of ripeness. Point taken. :)


  4. Great idea Chris, with an empirical aspect to it (eg: not just throwing out several descriptors, 3 of them obvious, 4 of them random). Much more interesting personally.