The moment you raise a glass of wine close to your nose to identify its aroma, you trigger a response from your memory. This interesting process sends a signal to your brain that, in turn, compares the scent with your immense memories archive. Then, after making the comparison, it creates the sensation of either something familiar or new. If it’s familiar, the wine’s aroma reminds you not only of a flower or fruit, but also of an experience. This last becomes your visual reference to help you identify the colors, textures and sensations that were present at a specific moment that is placidly remembered through a sip of wine.
Aroma of Wine
A wine’s aroma is defined as the positive impressions one has when tasting it –fruity, floral, woody or sweet– while odors refer to its flaws –vinegar or cork. After detecting the aromas, they are combined with the taste of wine in your tongue and palate so that you are also able to identify its savor, that is, the result from combining its taste and nose.
As you may have already noticed, first, wine testers observe the swirling movement of wine in a glass as well as its color. Then, they close their eyes, bring the glass close to their noses and sniff. This is because aromas are such an important source of information that they are classified in three categories: primary (they refer to a grape’s vine. They may be, for example, vegetative or fruity); secondary (they depend on the winemaking process. They may be caramel, toffee brioche, etc.); tertiary (they depend on aging and include smoked, cigar box or coffee, among others).
Wine Bouquet vs Aroma
Note: a young wine doesn’t show tertiary aromas since they don’t have enough aging. For this reason, when talking about mature wines we refer to their bouquet and not their aroma, since the bouquet includes primary, secondary and tertiary aromas.
Nowadays there are winetasting courses you can take to learn how to turn your sense of smell into your main sense and how to complement it with the sense of taste. Yet, we want to offer you a cheat sheet to recognize the main aromas of some wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon: green pepper, berries, cassis and prune. Mature: woody, toasted bread, cinnamon and chocolate.
Malbec: dark fruits, red fruits, violet. Mature: cinnamon and vanilla.
Pinot Noir: cherry, floral and tropical notes. Mature: smoked.
Chardonnay: honey, hazelnut, green apple, banana, melon and coconut.
Sauvignon Blanc, honey, pear, banana and smoked.