Whether honey, raspberries, tobacco or tar evoke the delicate whiff of a wine's bouquet is, apparently, immaterial. The only thing that makes a glass of wine distinctive, according to a study released by a French scientist, is its colour.
When wine buffs claim to be "getting apricots with a hint of honey" from Chardonnay, they are talking about how it looks, not what it smells or even tastes like, according to Gil Morrot, of the National Institute for Agronomic Research in Montpellier.
Mr Morrot analysed similes used by experts to describe the smell of wines, and then looked for patterns in the descriptions. He found they were almost completely inconsistent.
Dr Morrot said: "The only thing they all have in common is the difference between red and white wine."
The team asked 54 undergraduates to describe the noses of two glasses of Bordeaux; one red, one white. Like experts, the students used red and dark similes for the red wine, and yellow ones for the white. But they were fooled when asked to sniff another two glasses. They were the same two wines as before, but the white had been coloured with odourless red dye.Reuse content