nose in wine glassPretending to be Jilly Goolden while swirling and sniffing the contents of each wine glass is half the fun of wine appreciation. But sometimes, I admit it, I need help identifying a wine’s aromas. Just because someone tells you they smell and taste wines for a living it doesn’t make their judgement infallible.

At a South African wine competition the judge (a Master of Wine by the way, a qualification shared with only 296 other wine professionals) rated the majority of the entered Shiraz wines as having “no sense of smell whatever.” Clearly something was up with the ’highly trained’ nostrils because fellow judges overturned the results.

child sniffMaybe the tempting Shiraz aromas of plum, blackberry, dark chocolate, raspberry and black pepper couldn’t penetrate through a nose blocked with a South African cold? Or perhaps the judge just hadn't sniffed each spoonful of his last blackberry and plum crumble or analysed each square of Lindt 70 per cent cocoa chocolate as it passed beneath his nose?

trainersBecause that's how you'll find and add aromas to your memory. Sniff and remember everything, that's what I do (and many odd looks it's got me). Not just food either. It's true many wines do smell rather like fruit or cake but they can also smell like the inside of a garden shed or that pair of smelly trainers kicked under the sofa.

The more smells you lodge into your personal aroma memory bank, the easier it is to identify and put words to that huge array of aromas wafting out of each glass of wine.

PG Wine Tips

£3.99 and under

There are still some good bottles to be found that cost the same as a couple of National Lottery tickets.

Aldi Cambalala South African Fairtrade Pinotage

£3.99 Aldi

Intense mulberry and sloe aromas – rich and perfumed.

Costs a bit more, but tastes great

Sometimes a bottle of wine tastes so fab it's still a bargain whatever it costs.

Co-op MalbecCo-op Fairtrade Gran Reserva Argentinean Malbec 2011

£6.79 Co-op (down from £7.99 until October 30)

Wonderfully inviting aromas of juicy and jammy blackcurrant with a bit of plum. Tastes nice too – smooth blackcurrant with some liquorice chocolate spiciness.

Vidal New Zealand Riesling 2010

£9.99 The New Zealand House of Wine (buy 2+ bottles for £8.99)

Hawthorn blossom and hazelnut aromas, plus some damp wood. Tangy and refreshing flavours of apple, lime and coconut.

Errazuriz Chilean Max Reserva Chardonnay 2010

£11.95 Berry Brothers & Rudd

Unusual mix of aromas but none the worse for it: green apple, cheese, almond and fresh grass. Flavours of creamy lemon pie filling.

Beronia Spanish Rioja Reserva 1994

£11.99 Majestic In-store as of tomorrow

Another wine with an unusual set of aromas, rhubarb and cocoa this time. Which also comes through on the flavour.

Guy Charbaut Non-vintage Champagne Brut

£13.20 (half bottle)

One of the best food-friendly champagne’s I’ve come across – rich and creamy and only slightly bubbly. Its frangipane flavours match well with many foods – in this instance it was a hot quiche Lorraine.

This article has also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on