There are many categories of aromas present in white wines: citrus fruit, tropical fruit, flowers, herbs, dried fruit, berries, spices, caramelized, chemical toasts, earthy. Today we're looking at which ones are the most important and what they can tell us.
Let's start by noting that all, or almost all, white wines have more or less marked hints of citrus. In most cases, the scents are reminiscent of fresh and green citrus fruits (lime, lemon and grapefruit), but some grape varieties have sweeter citrus fruit aromas, such as orange and mandarin. Some examples of these wine varietals are Gewurztraminer, Moscato Bianco, Riesling and Viognier.
All white wines have hints of white or tree fruit, such as apple, pear, apricot, peach. Wines produced in cold climates will have aromas reminiscent of green or not fully ripe fruit, while those produced in warmer climates have hints of peach, apricot and ripe fruit in general.
Tropical fruit is also frequently found in the bouquet of a white wine. The most frequent descriptors are: pineapple, melon, lychee, mango, papaya, passion fruit. These scents are more pronounced in white wines from hot climates or produced from specific grape varieties. Some examples of widespread grape varieties with these scents are Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Moscato Bianco and Gewurztraminer.
The flowers category is an extremely wide range of scents, which includes: acacia, jasmine, rose, lime, chamomile, lilac, hawthorn, elder, lavender, violet and many others. They present as very marked aromas in some wines and are barely perceptible or absent in others. Some of the wine varietals that produce white wines with marked floral scents are: Gewurztraminer, Moscato Bianco, Fiano di Avellino, Prosecco (Glera).
The herbs category is divided into medicinal/aromatic herbs (sage, thyme, bay leaf, marjoram and others), and green herbs (freshly cut grass, tomato leaf, currant sprout, asparagus and others). When present, the hints of medicinal herbs give a touch of class to the bouquet of dry and fresh wines, bringing aromatic nuances and helping to accentuate the sensation of flavor in the mouth. Along these lines, try looking for them in Vermentino, Soave or Prosecco. Green herb hints, on the other hand, are rarer and more typical of wines produced with grapes grown in cold climates. These scents may seem unpleasant to those who smell them alone for the first time, but they contribute to the complexity and finesse of the bouquet. The best known example is that of Sauvignon Blanc from cooler climates (continental Europe and Northern Italy) with its unmistakable aroma of "cat pee", tomato leaf, asparagus.
The other categories of aromas common in white wines, which are often difficult to perceive for those approaching tasting, are: Earthy (gravel, wet chalk, dust), chemical (the typical Riesling flint), from fermentation (the typical Chardonnay butter), from toasting (bread crust, caramel), nuts (hazelnut, almond), and spices (pepper, cloves, anise).
How then do you proceed in tasting to try to identify all these aromas? We recommend that you proceed by reviewing the categories one at a time, trying to understand if they are present and if so, trying to recognize the specific aroma. Citrus fruits: lime-lemon or orange-mandarin? White fruit: green or ripe? Pear, apple, apricot, or peach? Tropical fruit: is it present? If so, which one? And thus so you continue with all the other categories. And in this way you will gradually come to create a very detailed map of the wine's aromatic profile.
Then there are some aromas that better suggest specific wines. This is the case with "cat pee" or herbs (Sauvignon Blanc), rose (Gewurztraminer) or butter (Chardonnay).
TasterPlace's training aromas cover almost all aromatic categories of white wine. In the collection of White Wine Aromas you will find citrus fruit (lemon and grapefruit), white fruit (green apple, pear), tropical fruit (pineapple), flowers (acacia, honey), earthy (chalk), green herbs (currant bud), aromatic herbs (sage), butter and bread crust.
You can also customize your collection of aromas, with the Vino-12 kit, choosing them from a comprehensive list.
Being able to recognize aromas makes tasting more pleasant and allows you to choose the wine you want to drink with more awareness. By training yourself to recognize TasterPlace aromas blindly, it will be easier to identify them, much more subdued, in the wines you go on to taste.
Click here for TasterPlace White Wine aromas.
Click here for a comprehensive list of aromas to choose from for your customizable Vino-12 kit.