Describing aroma

The aroma reaches the nose before the food reaches the mouth and we can taste it.

Smell helps to discover and enjoy food as much as taste. The sense of smell explores our food before we eat it.

Describing aromas

We know that anything nutritious tastes and smells good. The smell of that food that could be harmful is almost always unpleasant.

We only have a limited number of words to express multiples sensations and describing aromas might seem difficult. Don’t worry; most of the words can be grouped under two headers: nice aroma, and if it smells good, it will be a pleasure to eat; or foul aroma, and if it smells bad, don’t eat it. So...

How does it smell?

Acrid - pungent, bitter, food can acquire this quality when cooked over a wood fire.

Ambrosial - divine, sweet smelling, fragrant, aromatic.

Anosmic - odorless, no smell at all.

Aromatic - perfumed, fragrant, scented, sweet smelling, pungent, usually pleasing - it is not odorless and unscented.

Balmy - having the pleasing fragrance of aromatic balm, mild, pleasant, gentle, soft and not pungent at all.

Corky - smelling like cork.

Comforting - pleasant aroma.

Delicate - subtle, faint, fine, elusive, tantalizing - never overpowering.

Fetid - rotten, putrid, foul, rank, squalid, fusty, stinking, smelling, the moldy, decaying smell of decomposing food - it does not smell fresh.

Foul - unclean, dirty, stinking, rank, tainted, soiled, fetid, polluted - it does not smell clean and fresh.

Fragrant or perfumed are similar - you could say instead aromatic, scented, sweet smelling, sweet scented, odorous - the opposite of smelly and not odorless.

Fresh - the aroma is clean, clear, cool, refreshing, sweet and new, crisp as newly picked fruit or vegetables, warm as newly baked bread hot from the oven, - the smell does not feel insalubrious, moldy, stale or worse.

Fulsome - generous to excess, excessive, over the board - not mild and bland.

Gamy - having the distinctive fragrance of game, either the tangy smell that reminds of grass, forest and wild aromatic herbs in fresh game, or the rich, wet, slightly rank and stale smell in "ripe" game as it is usually held until it is slightly decomposed.

Heady - strongly aromatic, pungent, rich, intoxicating, spicy, piquant - not a mild smell.

Malodorous - scented, aromatic, redolent, fragrant, stinking.

Muscadine - something with the sweet aroma of this type of grape.

Odoriferous - it has a strong smell.

Odorless - unscented, no smell, no scent whatsoever - the complete opposite to aromatic, fragrant, odorous and perfumed.

Olfactory - food that produces impact on the nose.

Piquant - stinging, pungent, an aroma that tickles the nose.

Pungent -it has a strong aroma, it is spicy, hot, heady, overpowering, maybe sharp or bitter, but certainly not bland. It could be forceful, biting, cutting, maybe caustic or slightly acetic, but certainly not mild.

Putrescent - fetid, a rotting smell, putrid, certainly smelly, stinking and worse. Nothing further from smelling sweet or a pleasant aroma.

Putrid - fetid.

Rancid - the stale smell of something past its sell by date, rank, off, sour, rotten - not fresh at all.

Rank - a pungent aroma leaning to the bad side, fetid, smelly, foul, stale, rancid - not soft, balmy and fresh.

Redolent - malodorous, stinking, fragrant, aromatic on the shady side but not unscented or odorless.

Savory - if the food is described as having a savory aroma the smell can be either spicy, pungent, flavorsome, and aromatic, salty but not sweet, or pleasant, nice, wholesome.

Scented - perfumed, fragrant, aromatic, it does smell opposite to odorless or unscented.

Smelly - reeking of foul perfume, malodorous, putrid, fetid, stinking, moldy, stale - not sweet and fragrant.

Stinking - foul smelling, reeking, rotten, putrid, fetid, rank, malodorous - not fresh, sweet and fragrant. Hopefully, you will not find anything like it on your plate, although some would argue that certain very much appreciated cheeses stink.

Stuffy - oppressive, stifling, hot, the aroma goes to your head - probably no fresh.

Sweet - pleasing and easy on the palate, it can go from genteel and nice, to delightful and attractive, tends to be satisfying, enjoyable and rewarding, might be sugary, probably fresh, pure and appealing - it would not be harsh, foul or unappealing.

aroma - fragrance, smell, odor, scent, perfume, fragrance, or bouquet.

anosmia - total or partial loss of sense of smell.

hircine - a caprine odor, something that smells of goat.