Schopenhaur’s Schnoz

It occasionally happens that, for no particular reason, long-forgotten scenes suddenly start up in the memory.  This may in many cases be due to the action of some hardly perceptible odour, which accompanied those scenes and now recurs exactly the same as before.  For it is well known that the sense of smell is specifically effective in awaking memories, and that in general it does not require much to rouse a train of ideas.  And I may say, in passing, that the sense of sight is connected with the understanding, the sense of hearing with the reason, and, as we see in the present case, the sense of smell with the memory.  Touch and Taste are more material and dependent upon contact.  They have no ideal side.

-Arthur Schopenhauer

We smell a smell and there it is.  The musty funky sweetness of Hawai’ian dirt, lilacs on chilly and dewy and promising Spring mornings, a hint of smoked meat and all the times and places and people we’ve enjoyed it with.  From there a “train of ideas” is roused.  I think Schopenhauer has it right about most things, including these words from his writings in Studies In Pessimism (excluding his chauvinistic way of completely overlooking womens’ intuitive, ever-capable awesomeness.  But, anyway…).

Scent is part of the way that people fall in love, how doggies get to know one another, how we can tell if a wine is sound or not.  Scent and memory are so connected.  Sometimes the connection is so powerful that I think it might be magic.  But it’s not.  It’s physics and science and amazing tangible stuff like that.  The connection is a beautiful gift that we shouldn’t, but probably usually do, take for granted.

Sight and taste of wines can be pleasing, and interesting, and can tell us many things- though it is the scent that carries us to worlds outside our present time and place.  Different people smell different things in different wines at different times.  Quite the quilt.  If you find a good wine, and if you’re paying it some attention, it can bring you on your very own sort of trip.

Sometimes when I taste a wine I get so lost in thinking about where and who it’s from, how it’s made, what it costs, where it would fit on a particular shop shelf/glass pour/ bottle list.  In the midst of trying to place a wine in a way that makes sense to me and customers, I forget to stop and pay it some mind.  To see what is going on, what it has to offer.  It doesn’t always have to make sense.  Sometimes there is not much there, sometimes it is pleasant but nothing special, and sometimes (the times that make it all worthwhile) I am moved.

It’s important to try, and important not to forget, and important to remember to sniff!