The nose refers to the wine’s aroma, smell or bouquet sensed through the taster’s olfactory senses. The wide array of fruit, earthy, floral, herbal, mineral and woodsy flavor perceived in wine are derived from aroma notes interpreted by the olfactory bulb.
Smell or a wine’s nose is a vital part of the tasting experience. Our sensation of flavor is actually a combination of both taste and smell. Without your nose and taste buds working together you are unable to taste complex flavors and would be limited to the basic taste sensations: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami.
A fun experiement to see the impact our sense of smell has on taste: Chew a jellybean while holding your nose. Now open your nose midway though chewing. You will suddenly be able to identify specific flavors: apple, bubblegum, watermelon, ect.
The reason for this is as you chew you’re forcing air through your nasal passages, carrying the smell along with it. Now you may be thinking, but I don’t chew my wine, isn’t it different? When wine is sipped, it is warmed in the mouth and mixes with saliva to vaporize the volatile aroma compounds. These compounds are then inhaled “retro-nasally” through the back of the mouth to where it is received by nearly five million nerve cells.