Remember the story a while back claiming how you take your coffee clues you in to your wine style? According to the (admittedly non-scientific) research, coffee-with-cream drinkers dig silky Pinots, while those reaching for the sugar bowl might like a sweeter-style Riesling. While this may or may not hold true, when it comes to beverage preferences, the nose does know; or, in other words, one’s favorite scents can often predict ones’ penchant for certain drinks. Breathe deeply, and read on for wine, beer and cocktail suggestions matched to different scent categories.
If the heady, aromatic scents of rose, orange blossom and lavender entice you, pick one of these blossoming beverages:
Wine: Love perfume bottles? Try a glass of orange-blossom- and acacia-scented Viognier from the classic French region of Condrieu. If red’s more your thing, sip a violet-esque Cab Franc.
Beer: Canadian brewery Dieu du Ciel (“God of the Sky”)’s pink-tinged Rosée d’Hibiscus is a wheat beer infused with hibiscus and a cherry floral scent, and enough acidity to keep it from being cloying.
Spirit: Pinky Vodka is blended with violets, rose petals and ten other botanicals—it’s great in cocktails or just mixed with club soda; sparkling wine becomes a floral fantasy when hibiscus flowers in syrup from Wild Hibiscus are first dropped into the flute; mix DRY Soda’s Lavender Soda with you favorite gin (rosy Hendrick’s is a good choice) for a modern spin on the Rickey.
Like it hot? Whether your poison is peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves or chili peppers, these liquids will hurt so good.
Wine: Spice mavens can’t go wrong with a peppery Shirazes from Australian winery or an Alta Vista Malbec from Argentina; fans of white wine will appreciate the white pepper notes of an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
Beer: Michigan-based Short’s Brewing Company adds a touch of fresh lemon and orange zest, coriander, and black peppercorns to their golden wheat ale Nicie Spicie.
Spirit: Spiced rum from Sailor Jerry or Captain Morgan provide some heat with the punch (or in it…); St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram—made from the same spice used in jerk seasoning—adds complexity to rum-based cocktails.
If you are partial to smoky scents that evoke memories of smoldering campfires or wood burning stoves, these drinks will light your fire.
Wine: Both South African indigenous varietal Pinotage, and France’s Northern Rhône Syrah-based Côte Rôtie are known to possess aromas of smoked meats.
Beer: Oregon’s Rogue Ales fires it up with Smoke Ale, a hoppy German-style Rauchbier with a subtly smoky aroma and flavor; Stone Smoked Porter from California is dark and complex, with a smoky/peaty character balanced by bitter chocolate and coffee.
Spirit: The very processes used to create Scotch (adding peat to malted barley drying over a fire) and Mezcal (cooking agave leaves in wood-lined pits) renders the spirits brooding, dark and deep. Check our Buying Guide for top-rated brands.
While this scent encompasses everything from apricots to apples, here are some fruity libations fresh from the produce stand.
Wine: White wine lovers will fare well to swirl and sip a peachy Albariño; red drinkers should look for the fresh berries in Schiava—Italy’s Alto Adige’s answer to Beaujolais.
Beer: Blue Paw Wheat Ale from Maine’s Sea Dog Brewing Company doesn’t beat you over the head with a sweet blueberry aromas or flavor—it’s subtle and extremely quaffable; Pyramid Breweries’ Audacious Apricot Ale is unfiltered and concentrated, without being too heavy.
Spirit: Fruit-flavored vodkas abound, but many of them are produced with natural or artificial fruit extracts. Exceptions are bottles from Hangar One, whose distillers actually soak fresh fruit in vodka (their Citron “Buddha’s Hand” and Mandarin Blossom Vodkas are particularly appealing).
Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, DC area. She can be reached through her website, www.trywine.net.