Scientists in Italy tested the notion that wines from different regions can be distinguished solely by their aromatics. Turns out that yes, they can. Experienced wine hands may say "duh" to this news, but according to the study, published in December, this is the first time scientists double-checked it with technology in a laboratory setting.
Not only that, but novices could make the distinctions just as well as professionals.
Over dinner with a wine-collecting friend recently, I lifted a glass of a classified-growth Bordeaux to my nose—and scrunched reflexively at the unmistakable odor of a barnyard. My dining companion, however, grinned at what he described as the rich complexity of the fruit and pleasantly funky overtones. The wine had been affected by a yeast called Brettanomyces. Some of us consider its presence an "off flavor." Others love it, even expect it in certain types of wine.