Have you ever thought why wines have so many different aromas and flavours? Why does Tempranillo have strawberry aromas? After all wine is a fermented grape juice yet it can have a wide range of flavours. As you practise and become more comfortable tasting wines, more flavours become apparent. Scientists have identified 900 aroma compounds in wine. Each of us can identify scents with which we are familiar.
Flavours in wines can be separated into Primary Aromas, which come from the grape itself, Secondary Aromas, a result of the maceration and fermentation processes and Tertiary Aromas, associated with wine that have been aged, particularly in oak barrels.
Primary aromas are those such as, Strawberries in Tempranillo, often associated with a young Tempranillo. In every grape there are aroma compounds that we identify with particular fruits. Not only will you strawberry aromas but also other red berry fruits. The same aromas can be found in other grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Zinfandel.
Rosé wines made from Garnacha or Bobal will also tend have lovely fresh strawberry aromas.
Freshly cut grass is also a primary aroma, synonymous with cool climate Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand and the Loire Valley in France. Here in Spain you can find these aromas in white wines made from Verdejo in Rueda. It can be a very pleasant surprise to someone who is new to wine to smell the grassy aromas in a wine because they are so pronounced.
Who wants to drink wine tasting like butter? Actually it can be delicious, think of a Chardonnay from Burgundy or Australia. These are Secondary Aromas found in white wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation, a natural process where the harsher malic acids (think green apples) are converted into lactic acid, found in dairy products like butter.
Buttery, creamy aromas can also be a result of the wine having spent some time in new oak barrels.
Coffee aromas in wine are Tertiary Aromas, often found in wines that have been aged in oaks barrels. The oak wood used for wine barrels is toasted to different levels and these characteristics are absorbed into the wine and are notable when tasting. One of these compounds is similar to that of freshly roasted coffee.
Other tertiary aromas that you tend to associate with wines that have been aged in oak barrels are vanilla, leather and tobacco. The more full bodied the wines made from Syrah of Cabernet Sauvignon, the higher the intensity of these characteristics.
You can recognise a white wine that has been aged in oak barrels but vanilla aromas that combine with the array of fruit aromas and flavours.
To get more out of tasting wine you have to practise training your nose and smell everything. A trip to a market, a walk in a field will heighten your senses and make smelling wine much more fun.
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