When you read tasting notes or a wine label, always appear several names of aromas. But what do they mean? Where did they come from? Can we all learn to recognize them?
Descriptions of aromas on the back label such as of red fruits, wild flowers or Belgian chocolate must have surely called your attention al least once. I assure you that nobody adds chocolate chips or fruit juice to wine to obtain a richer and more complex bouquet. Each strain / origin develops its own aromatic structure through various molecules or volatile components that interrelate and form the aromas in the wine.
Where do aromas come from?
Aromatic molecules have a characteristic chemical composition. For example, the molecule that reflects the “rose scent” is present in the same flower (and makes the rose its pink tone), but it also exists (but in a lesser extent) in many wine grapes, especially red ones.
All wine aromas come from three sources: first, the strain or grape from which the wine is made; second, the terroir. For example, different soil types can be transmitted in various wine aromas. A land rich in calcareous components gives the wine a mineral note, while an iron ground brings aromas of blood or raw meat. Finally are the aromas that burst during the winemaking process, like notes of yeast and gourmand scents (vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, etc.) from its barrel aging.
Thanks to the training, which is often more decisive than natural talent, oenologists and professional tasters are able to recognize many aromas. But each of us has something called memory / library or flavors or aromas, even without seeing we can recognize that a neighbor is making an apricot jam or a barbecue.
To expand this library of aromas we have to practice. Smell things! When we cook, when we shop in a grocery store or even when a product has expired, as sour milk, we have to keep that olfactory memory with us. Only through practice we can train this trio (nose – mouth – brain) to recognize the different aromas.
You can develop your own tool that will support you during the wine tastings. Keep in a box small glass containers and each enclose a flavor, such as spices, nuts, coffee beans, cocoa, etc. When to taste a wine, do not hesitate to smell both and compare.
Families of aromas
During your aromas education it is advisable to learn to divide them into several families. Experts in wines can recognize about 500 flavors (even 700, say others). I assure you, that if you recognize one or two flavors of each family, you can be proud and continue this education and game of senses.
- Flowers: acacia, hawthorn, carnation, honeysuckle, hyacinth, jasmine, iris, orange blossom, lilac, lime, violet, mignonette, broom, elderberry, geranium, lily, magnolia, bergamot, verbena, lavender, peony, freesia, violet, chamomile, linden, honey.
- Citrus fruits: lemon, grapefruit, pink grapefruit, orange, tangerine, nectarine, mandarin, kumquat, lemon grass.
- White and yellow fruits: apple, apricot, pear, peach, quince, currant, grape, cherry plum.
- Red fruits: strawberry, raspberry, cherry, Granada, “murtilla”, cranberry.
- Black fruits: blackcurrant, blackberry, cherry, blueberry, plum.
- Tropical fruits: pineapple, mango, lychee, passion fruit, melon, watermelon, banana, papaya, kiwi.
- Dried fruits: figs, candied cherry, fruit compote, prunes, raisins, hazelnuts, toasted almond, bitter almond, nuts, dried apricots, kirsch, pistachio, green olives, black olives, tapenade, coconut.
- Spices: black pepper, pink pepper, white pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, anise, thyme, bay leaves, dried basil, oregano, dill, anise, fennel, ginger, angelica, marjoram, rosemary, mushrooms, truffles , mushrooms, vermouth, garlic, onion, licorice, cardamom, curry.
- Menthol: camphor, mint, eucalyptus.
- Wood: cedar, pine, oak, licorice, green wood, old wood, toasted wood, wet wood, sandalwood, pencil, cigar box, crust, graphite, rancid, pure wood, wood varnish, cognac.
- Vegetables: grass, freshly cut grass, dry grass, molasses, wild flowers, scrubland, sweet pepper, green pepper, bud blackcurrant, hay, fern, boxwood, herbal tea, ivy, green tea, earl gray, humus, leaves, fresh leaves, wet leaves, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, white radish, cucumber, vine, watercress, fresh vegetables, cooked vegetables such as peas, asparagus, grilled vegetables, earth, beets, artichoke.
- Notes of smoke: snuff smoke, burnt, toast, leather, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, cigar, smoked bacon.
- Balsamic: juniper, resin, incense, tar.
- Animals: leather, sweat, hair, musk, wet hair, sebum, urine, raw meat, aroma of the sea, oysters, blood, ambergris, hunting, meat broth, wet wool.
- Minerals: stone, gypsum, flint, slate, oil, paraffin, rubber, gasoline, asphalt.
- Chemicals: vinegar, alcohol, paraffin, sulfur, hardboiled egg, celluloid, medicine, pharmacy, iodine, chlorine, kit, disinfectant, glue.
- Etheric, fermentation: acetic, acetone, nail polish, overripe bananas, soap, phenol, naphthalene, fermented Apple, cider, candy, candle, wax, cheese, sauerkraut, thick fabric, yeast, ferment, sourdough bread, wheat, beer , milk, sour milk, butter, powder, brioche, bread, cookie, pastry, yogurt, praline, soy sauce