What are the primary aromas in wine?
Smelling wine is a total sensory experience that can help us appreciate mine so much more. Have you ever noticed that a red wine smells like red fruit or a white wine has notes of citrus or apple? In this article, we’re going to tell you about all the primary aromas in wine so that you can tell them apart and enjoy your wines and tastings so much more.
En El Coto de Rioja queremos mostrarte de forma didáctica y amena todo lo que debes saberHere 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 the third episode, we’ll keep going through the aromas in wine which, as we mentioned in the previous classes, can be broken down into primary, secondary and tertiary aromas. Now, we want to talk about primary aromas so that you can pick them out easily. Hit Play!
Types of primary aromas
The primary aromas of wine are the scents that our nose can pick out depending on the variety (or varieties) of grape, the vineyard and the climate. The primary aromas generally fall into four groups: fruit, herbal, floral and mineral.
To pick them out, you need to slightly tilt your glass of wine (to increase the surface area that’s in contact with the air). The best time to do this is right after serving. This way, we can smell them as soon as we bring the glass to our nose.
1. Fruit aromas
As a rule of thumb, with red wines, it’s more likely that we’ll pick out aromas of red fruit, such as strawberries, plums or cherries, and floral aromas, such as violets and lilacs.
The more intense the wine is, (such as a Crianza), it’s more likely that it will have scents of dark or purple fruits. These could be black cherries, darker plums and blueberries. In a Gran Reserva wine, we might even get notes of dried fruits such as dried figs, prunes or dates.
In white wines, we might find citrus aromas such as lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit. It’s also quite common to pick out notes that are reminiscent of fruits like apple, pear, peach or quince.
What’s more, depending on the climate where the grapes were grown, we can find aromas of tropical fruit such as a guava, mango, pineapple or lychee.
2. Herbal aromas
A wine that tastes too “green” could be defective. If you notice this aroma, it could be due to the winemaking process, for example, if the grapes used weren't ripe enough. However, some varieties, such as Sauvingon Blanc, often have a natural herbal aroma.
Both red and white wines can develop herbal or plant aromas, which can sometimes range from olive, fennel, bell peppers, asparagus or beans. Among the herbal notes, we can pick out scents of mint, bay, oregano, thyme or other plants such as eucalyptus, pine or freshly cut grass.
3. Floral aromas
Among the floral aromas, the most common ones we can find are roses, jasmine, violet or orange blossom, but these notes are very dependent on the variety of grape used. For example, in muscat grapes, we have notes of orange blossom, while Verdejo gives us white flowers, and Cabernet Sauvignon, roses and violets.
4. Mineral aromas
Mineral notes in the scent and taste of the wine are due to the grape having absorbed different chemical elements from the vineyard soil.
Most experts confirm that this mineral taste or scent in mine is generally due to the availability of water on the vineyard, or lack thereof, even though many winegrowers argue that the quality and composition of the soil also plays a role.
The most common range of aromas we can find are wet earth, granite, slate, chalk, talc, iodine, flint, quartz or pencil lead, among others.
Did you enjoy our class on primary aromas? Don't forget to watch all of the WineClass episodes on the official El Coto de Rioja YouTube channel. Click the bell icon to find out when the next class comes out. In the next episode, we’ll be talking about the secondary aromas in wine.
Do you want to try your hand at hosting a home wine tasting with family and friends? It’s an easy and fun way to share an afternoon together! Here’s a simple article with some basic tips that you can follow to run one like a professional sommelier.