More red wine aromas to expand your capabilities

aromas redwine sommelier Tasterplace

It is very important to create in our memory a wide database of smelling references that we are able to recognize in the food and wine that we consume. Without this “aroma database” we would not be able to recognize a smell when we perceive it. Also, the wine faults are not commonly found in wines nowadays and it is therefore difficult to recognize them.

For this reason, we decided to increase the number of wine aromas and we created a 24 aroma set. This 24 red wine aroma set has:

  • the same 12 aromas included in our standard red wine aroma set (Raspberry, Strawberry, Cherry, Black currant, Blackberry, Rose, Violet, Green bell pepper, Black pepper, Licorice, Oak wood, Mushroom)
  • plus other 12 new aromas: Prune, Lilac, Lavender, Thyme, Mint, Cinnamon, Tobacco, Coffee, Chocolate, Mold (defect), Stall (defect), Cork (defect).

 Let’s talk about these new aromas.

Prune. It is an aroma often used to describe the bouquet of many red wines. Together with Raspberry, Strawberry, Cherry, Black currant, Blackberry it represents the basic red/black fruit aromas. It can be detected in many wines, including French Merlot, Tempranillo, Aglianico, Barolo, Malbec, Nero d’Avola, Petit Sirah, Chianti, French Grenache or Spanish Garnacha.

 Lilac. It is floral note present in red wines. While rose and violet are relatively easy to be recognized, Lilac and many other flowers are more difficult. Its perfume is complex and it reminds of a mix of musk, talcum, citrus and spice aromas. This aroma can be found for instance, in the wines produced from Petit Verdot grapes.

Lavender. This is another floral note that can be detected in many red and white wines. Its perfume reminds of a mix of flowers, woods and balsamic notes. The lavender aroma is found in Tempranillo, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedrè wines as well as in the whites Kerner, Muller Thurgau, Silvaner. The notes of lavender are also associated with the varietal aromas present in some aromatic grape varieties, such as Riesling and Moscati. They are more evident in sparkling or semi-sparkling wines, such as Asti spumante, but also in the Portuguese Vinho verde.

 Thyme. It belongs to the family of aromatic herbs, together with oreganon, rosemary, sage, basil, bay leaf, and others. Its strong aroma is given by a chemical phenolic compound called “timolo” which is also present in oreganon. Its smells recall floras, herbal and balsamic notes. The thyme aroma in wine is not very common, but when it's present it adds complexity to the bouquet. It can be found both in red wines (such as Sangiovese, Nero D'Avola, Nebbiolo, and others) and in some white wines (Malvasia, Vermentino, and others)”.

 Mint. Mint, together with eucalyptus, is the aroma most often used to describe the balsamic notes of a wine. Balsamic notes are considered to be a plus of the bouquet of many structured red wines. In fact, the herbaceous aromas that are strong in some young red wines (Example Cabernet Sauvignon has a green bell pepper aroma), turn into balsamic notes as the same wine ages and matures.  This aroma can be often found in wines from the grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Aglianico, some Chianti, Spanish Garnacha, in American Merlot from Columbia Valley.

 Cinnamon. Very well known aroma by most people as it connotates many cakes and sweets. It can be found in many red wines, such as Californian Merlot, Chianti, Primitivo, Nero d’Avola, Valpolicella. It can also be found in some aged white wines.

 Tobacco. It can be found in many robust and mature red wines. For instance: Malbec, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Syrah, Aglianico, Montepulciano, Chianti, Nero d’Avola.

 Coffee. In wines this aroma can be due to wine barrel aging or to deliberately oxidation. In some robust/ mature red wines it is very noticeable and it adds complexity to the bouquet. It can be found in many wines, such as: Bordeaux blends, Brunello di Montalcino, Aglianico, Grenache.  

 Chocolate. In wines this aroma can be due to wine barrel aging or to deliberately oxidation. It can be found in many wines, such as: Malbec, Merlot, Grenache (for instance Châteauneuf-du-Pape), Australian Merlot.  

 Defects: Mold, Stall, Cork.

  • The Mold aroma is similar to the wet earth smell. It is a defect due to lack of hygiene and cleanliness during the wine making process.
  • The Stall aroma is due to the 4-methylphenol molecule, which is produced by the Brettanomyces yeast. It often due to the contamination of the oak barrels and it is acceptable in a wine only if it is very subtle.
  • The Cork aroma is due to the Trichloro-anisole molecule. It recalls the aroma of mold and cork and, when it is present, it is very noticeable especially in the mouth. It can be present in wines closed with corks.

 These new 12 red wine aromas add to the original ones to create a 24 aroma set which gives a good overview of the aromas which can be found in a red wine. To be able to recognize and to describe wine aromas is an important task because it can help us understand the grapes varieties used, the wine making process, the aging stage, the terroir where the grapes is grown.  In fact, the aromas can be:

  • Due to the grape and perceived directly in the grape or grape must: Green Bell Pepper in Cabernet, Rose in Moscato, Rose and Orange Blossom in Gewürztraminer, and others.
  • Perceived in the wine after fermentation: White fruit and Tropical fruit, Citrus, Red fruit, Flowers, Herbaceous and Herbal, Spice and others.
  • From yeast (lees, autolysis, flor) and Malolactic fermentation: Bread, Biscuit, Toast, Butter, Cream, and others.
  • From oak barrel wood aging: Vanilla, Cloves, Nutmeg, Smoked, Charred wood, Toast, Chocolate, Coffee and Resinous.
  • From oxidation or maturation in red wines: Cooked plum, Dried prune, Cooked red fruit, Leather, Tobacco, Mushroom, Chocolate, Coffee and others.

Train your sense of smell with TasterPlace aromas.

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