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What are the secondary aromas in wine?

We’re still going with the aromas in wine. Wine tastings wouldn’t be quite the same without them, right? This time, we're going one step further in our knowledge of the wine world, and we are dedicating a special article to what we call secondary aromas. Don't miss out on this WineClass! 

Here at El Coto de Rioja, we want to provide you with useful and enjoyable information about everything you need to enjoy wine with all five senses. That’s why we've created WineClass, some simple and basic lessons about the world of wines that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home with a glass of wine in hand.  

In episode four, we’ll be going into the next category of wine aromas We’ve already taken a look at the primary aromas, so now it’s time for the secondary ones. Do you want to know how to find them in your wine? Hit Play!  

Tipos de aromas secundarios vino

Types of secondary aromas

There are aromas that we can’t perceive at first when we bring the glass to our nose before tasting it. This is the case with secondary aromas.  

As you’ll remember, in our special article on the aromas of wine, we already mentioned that there is a special way of detecting this aroma group. For example, we pick out primary and secondary aromas when the glass is still.

When it comes to secondary aromas, we identify them by swirling the glass and smelling it again. The oxygenation is what sets off the aromas that you don’t get with a still glass.  

And what are the secondary aromas? These smells are connected with the winemaking process, specifically with fermentation. Let’s look at the two types! 

1. Alcoholic fermentation

This is the process that turns grape juice into wine. This is possible thanks to the action of the naturally occurring yeasts that are found on the grape skin.  

These yeasts are what provide the specific aromas in the wine and give it its character. In fact, winemakers often select specific varieties to play with these aromas, which we can see on bottles as “selected yeasts”. 

Fermentation is different for each wine, depending on the winemakers at each winery and the type of wine that they want to create. For example, in sweeter wines (such as demi-doux whites), fermentation is halted before it uses up all of the sugar in the grape juice. In this way, they preserve and keep the desired level of sweetness.  

Therefore, the aromas from alcoholic fermentation are those that are reminiscent of yeast, bark, bread, cakes, biscuits or pastries in general.  

2. Malolactic fermentation

At the end of alcoholic fermentation, in some cases, a second process starts in wine: malolactic fermentation. This type of fermentation is used for all red wines and some very specific white wines. 

Instead of yeasts, bacteria are what drive this process (which are also naturally occurring in the grapes).

Their role is to breakdown malic acid into lactic acid to lower the acidity of the wine making it more balanced and silkier and less astringent, among other things. 

In this case, the aromas from malolactic fermentation remind us of cheese, yoghurt, milk and butter.  

Find secondary aromas in our wines!

What do you think? Have you tried the trick we told you about in the video with our El Coto Crianza? Train your sense of smell with these exercises and learn all there is to know about your favourite drink.  

Don't forget to watch all of the WineClass episodes on the official El Coto de Rioja YouTube channel. Click on the bell icon to be the first to know when we bring out a new class. In the next episode, we’ll talk about the tertiary aromas in wine. 

Aromas primarios herbaceos vino

Meanwhile, you can enjoy special content on our El Coto de Rioja blog: 

Simple tips for ordering wine at a restaurant or bar