Course: Understanding Wine

Class 2: Tasting Reds

sensory basics


Your Sense of Smell

Located in the passage that connects the nose and mouth, a tiny patch of nerve endings called the olfactory epithelium senses airborne scents as they pass by. The information is transmitted to the olfactory bulb in the brain, which can identify thousands of scents as well as distinguish the presence of a scent at very low levels.

Recall the difference between aromas and flavors:

  • Scents that enter the retronasal passages via the nose are called aromas.
  • Scents that enter the retronasal passages via the mouth are called flavors.


Aroma & Flavor vs. Taste

In contrast to the enormous number of aromas and flavors, there are only four tastes. The tongue tastes sweet, sour (or tart), bitter and...

Ready to enroll? First, you must register for a membership to Your membership benefits include:

FREE enrollment in any course at Wine Spectator School

Over 230,000 searchable ratings and tasting notes

FREE mobile access so you can research wines wherever you are

E-newsletters with advance ratings

Editors’ blogs

Food and wine matching tool

And much more

Log In If You're Already a Member

Please log in using your email address and password for Wine Spectator School students who enrolled before 7.4.10, log in with your email address and school password or get more info here.

Forgot Password?

By clicking "Log in" you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Wine Spectator Online

Read our FAQ for more information

If you have questions about Wine Spectator School, please contact us.


= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash | New! Unfiltered

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences