Wine Tasting for Tots

Okay, not so much tasting as smelling. My kids have witnessed a fair number of glasses of wine swirled, sniffed, and sipped (and quaffed). Of course they’re curious (and of course, at 2 years old and 5 years old we don’t let them drink it). Still, through the usual kid q and a (the continual “what’s that?”), they know the difference, on sight, between white and red wine and that champagne comes in a wide bottle with fancy foil on top. And I swear they’ve never taken an after school wine tasting course, nor been read bedtime stories from Wine Spectator.

So how is it that they can, in a single whiff, identify the oak used to age a white wine? Well, they don’t put it that way, of course, but here’s what I’m talking about.

A couple of days ago, 2 year old Des, upon taking a big whiff of a cheap white screwcap Rhone we rely on throughout the week, said: “Mmmm. Smells like ice cream.” I smelled it. He was right! I thought: What’s his favorite ice cream? Vanilla. What’s the dominate flavor imparted by oak? Vanilla. I thought: He’d picked up on the vanilla notes from the oak. Incredible. Or I’m just projecting, and my Riedel Overture stemware reminded him of a parfait glass.
—Hugh

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