Aromas are the essential part of the olfactory tasting, the "nose" of the wine. But aromas also play an essential role in the tasting, the "mouth" of the wine. In short: the glossary that you can use to describe your tasting sensations.
The eye, the nose, the mouth, the three stages of tasting each correspond to the use of one of our senses. But make no mistake, during the tasting, it is by far our olfactory organ that is most in demand!
Our olfactory bulb is of course used to perceive the aromas of the wine when we study its nose, but it is also stimulated to perceive the aromas of the wine when we have it in our mouth. Indeed, the tongue can only distinguish 5 flavours: salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami.
And it is thanks to the famous feedback that the aromas of the mouth are "raised" to the maximum towards the olfactory bulb. We strongly advise you to practice feedback, the change in perception is immediate and you will feel more aromas and this more strongly.
The aromas you smell come from three characteristics/stages of the wine's life: the grape variety, fermentation and ageing.
Just as there are several varieties of apples, each with very different taste characteristics (such as Granny, Golden, Pink Lady, etc.), there are many varieties of grapes, called "grape varieties". Each grape variety (Muscat, Chardonnay or Riesling) also has its own characteristics, particularly aromatic.
For example, Gewurtztraminer, a highly aromatic grape variety, will be renowned for its rose and lychee aromas. On the other hand, other grape varieties, such as Riesling or Chardonnay, are less aromatic and different terroirs will give distinct aromatic expressions.
The trick: often, the aromas of fresh fruit are directly the expression of the grape variety and are therefore considered as primary aromas.
The fermentation process is quite complex and we will not go into details today. In short, fermentation is the process of changing from "grape juice" to "wine" by transforming sugar into alcohol using yeast.
Of course, fermentation is a much more complex reaction than it seems and aromatic molecules evolve at this stage. The choice of yeasts is fundamental to the development of certain specific flavours. Remember the Beaujolais nouveau banana, it was a specially selected yeast that was responsible for this particular taste!
As you might expect, the development of the wine's aromas does not stop once the fermentation is complete. Otherwise, what's the point of aging him?
Both during ageing (in oak barrels for example) and then during ageing in bottles, new aromas will appear (beeswax for white wines for example, mushrooms in the case of red wines, etc.).
Very fine wines can improve with age and develop a very complex range of aromas. But be careful, each wine has a shelf life and the vast majority of wines will be drunk within five years of harvesting.
The world of wine aromas is very rich and complex. To recognize these aromas more easily, first look for the "family" to which they belong (is it a flower, a red fruit...).
Green plant: grass, elder, boxwood, broom, ivy, fern, moss, blackcurrant bud, pepper
Dry plant: hay, burnt grass, tobacco
Aromatic plant: sage, thyme, savory, mint, fennel anise
Mushroom: fresh yeast, dead yeast, fresh mushroom, truffle, humus, undergrowth
The so-called "green" vegetal aromas are often associated with wines whose grapes have lacked maturity. Of course, it is difficult to make it a general rule. Because where the green pepper aroma can be seen as a "defect" of maturity, the red pepper aroma is a guarantee of nobility in great red wines...
Fresh flowers: pink, rosehip, hawthorn, honeysuckle, violet, peony, iris, narcissus, orange flower, acacia, carnation
Dried flowers: wilted pink
Blind tasting tip: Gewurtztraminer is characterised by its pronounced rose aromas.
Fresh red fruits: grape, redcurrant, strawberry, raspberry, cherry
Fresh black fruits: blueberry, blackcurrant, wild berries
Exotic fruits: pineapple, lychee, mango
Stone fruits: plum, plum, plum, plum, jinx, sloe, peach, apricot
Citrus fruits: lemon, mandarin, orange, grapefruit Citrus zest and candied fruit: orange zest
Cooked fruit: compote, fruit jam
Dried fruits: prunes, almonds, bitter almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, raisins, figs, dried apricots, dried bananas, dates
Aromas of jammy or stewed fruit come from very ripe grapes that have seen a lot of sunshine. These aromas of prunes, strawberry compote... are found in the red wines of southern France (in Languedoc or Roussillon for example)
Pepper, green pepper, paprika, licorice, parsley, chervil, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
Dry wood, bark, oak, cedar, exotic wood
The woody aromas are more or less noble (wood chips "woody" the wine without much nuance...). The "cedar" aromas are the hallmark of some of Bordeaux's great wines.
Balm, resin, pine resin, fir, cedar, incense, turpentine, camphor, varnish, eucalyptus
Burned, smoked, toasted, soot, tar, coffee, toasted coffee, cocoa, toasted bread, tobacco, chocolate
Fresh meat, roast juice, leather, fur, game, venison, smoked meat, musk
Honey, caramel, vanilla, chocolate, praline, almond paw, English candy
Butter, beer, brioche, sourdough, yeast, bread, cider, cheese, wheat
As the name suggests, fermentation aromas are secondary aromas, directly related to fermentation. The great white wines of Burgundy, which ferment in whole or in part in barrels, are typically marked by buttery, brioche aromas.
Hydrocarbon, naphtha, oil, gunpowder, flint, graphite, chalk
Even if a "petroleum" smell may seem like a strange idea in a wine, it is nevertheless the brand of the great Rieslings aged 10 years or more...
Acetone, alcohol, detergent, light taste, hydrogen sulfide
These unruly aromas are usually associated with wine defects.