Now that you’ve moved from Beginner wine knowledge into the intermediate phase of learning, it’s time to dig a little deeper into the basics of wine.
In the Intermediate Wine Guide, we are going to discuss:
The Natural Smell of the Grape Varietal: Wine Aromas
Aroma and bouquet are often used interchangeably in non-professional wine tasting as they both refer to the smell of the wine. In professional, wine tasting the aroma refers to the “natural smell” of the varietal i.e.: a young Gewürztraminer should smell of lychees while a young Cab should smell like black currants. The bouquet refers to the “chemical smell” meaning how long the wine has fermented, aged and how long was it exposed to oak. These are almost like additives, which cause an added smell layer to the wine. For example an aged Pinot Noir may smell like truffles.
To get the hang of a new vocabulary of wine smells, try using a Wine Aroma Wheel.
Wine Glasses and Decanters can enhance or inhibit the aroma of wines
Sometimes different types of wine glasses or decanters can also accentuate the aroma and bouquet of different wines. Decanting wine works to aerate the wine and bring the aromas forward while opening up the flavour of the wine. If your wine glass (or decanter) doesn’t allow for good air flow to the wine, it can inhibit the experience of the aroma.
Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Aromas in Wine
I think the best way to think about the difference between aroma and bouquet comes from The Oxford Wine Companion: “Primary aromas are those specific to the grape variety itself. Secondary aromas are those derived from fermentation and oak aging. Tertiary aromas are those that develop through bottled aging.“
Flavour Characteristics in Wine: Taste
Now flavours are what you actually taste in the wine. Here are some excellent pictures from South African Wine Expert Juliet Cullinan which I found incredibly helpful and you can find more on her site.
Practice Makes Perfect — You Have To Taste A Lot of Wine!
Now don’t get frustrated if you can’t smell or taste at first. It takes time and you need to taste a lot of wine to get past the “I just taste wine” phase, so do your homework and get tasting. This is probably the best homework ever “Go drink wine!”(Responsibly of course!)