If you are conﬁdent that you can unambiguously recognize the distinctive scent signature of a ripe green pepper - and you are conﬁdent that you are indeed getting such an aroma note in a wine – then you can be sure that you are “homing in” on the grape type. For the glorious smell of a green pepper is absolutely the signature scent of red wines made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, irrespective of which country in which the vines were grown. And by way of a reminder, in Cabernet Sauvignon wines, the green pepper aroma is always accompanied by a blackcurrant aroma nuance as well.
How do you choose a green pepper for your evening salad or dinner? Hopefully, you do not do what many modern consumers would do and buy your peppers pre-packed from a supermarket shelf. Watch and learn from those who have a real interest in fresh and gourmet food who shop in their local market. They will scrutinise the colour before they would dream of handling the pepper. Then, if the colour is judged to be acceptable, they will give it a gentle squeeze to assess the ﬁrmness, ripeness and freshness. Then, ﬁnally, comes the true test, the only test that really matters in ﬁne cooking – they take the pepper to the nose and take leisurely probing sniffs. Like pigs hunting for trufﬂes, they rely on their trained sense of smell to make the crucial judgement, and the beatiﬁc smiles on their faces shows the pleasure to be had in this exercise.
When it comes to using your sense of smell in assessing the aroma and ﬂavour of wines, know that we have almost sniffer-dog sensitivity for some of the special aroma molecules – including that related to the Green Pepper aroma. The green pepper aroma is a member of the green family of odours (which includes green apples and cut grass) and like all green odorants provides a sensation of freshness and lightness.
We explore more detail regarding fascinating aspects of this key aroma in our Aroma Kit booklet and, indeed, in our Aroma Academy Training Programmes.