Science shows that each person smells different aromas
If you’ve been on a Wine-Knows trip, you know the word terroir works its way into the conversation several times a day----it doesn’t matter if we’re in the Southern or Northern hemisphere, or it’s a trip to Bordeaux, Tuscany or Australia. To remind you, terroir is a French word that has no exact translation. It is the sum of all parts that go into making a wine unique: everything from the soil in which the grapes are grown, the micro-climate, the drainage of the vineyard, and even the pests in the local environment. Is there such a notion of one’s "personal terroir?" Is there something unique about each person that effects our perception of a wine?
Scientists in Spain believe there is. Research has demonstrated that there is a physiological reason for the perceived differences in the aromas that we smell in a wine. The reason has to do with our unique microbes that live inside saliva. A minimum of 700 different bacteria live in our saliva and mouth. No two persons’ makeup of these bacteria is exactly the same. The microbes are involved in chemical reactions resulting in different aromatic compounds in wine. Different bacteria cause different reactions and ultimately different smells for different people.
While more research is necessary to explore this notion of a personal terroir, the door has been opened to explore the idea as the olfactory equivalent of our fingerprints. No two people smell exactly the same due to the difference in their unique bacteria makeup. Next time the person next to you swirls a glass of Cabernet and speaks of “leather and cigar box” and you smell “chocolate and spices” it could very well be due to your personal terroir.