Anyone can drink a glass of wine : white, red or rosé depending on your taste. You can like it ‘oaky’ or ‘young’, perhaps a bit of both… you can like a crisp dry rosé, or a more sweet pink wine… Little by little we learn to appreciate the style of a wine, the blends, we even learn to prefer certain vintages.
When tasting a wine, what are we really looking for? Flavors, textures, tannins and intensity of aromas. There are different types of aromas that we class by level :
Primary aromas and flavors : these are given by the fruit itself and the alcoholic fermentation process.
- For white wines, we can imagine aromas such as green fruit, citrus, stone fruit ; we can also identify floral notes such as acacia and honeysuckle…
- For red wines, we could possibly identify strawberries, raspberries, prunes, cassis, licorice, raisins and kirsch…
These aromas and flavors each depend on the grape variety and the vintage of course : a ‘hot’ year will produce aromas of cooked fruit (think ‘jam’) and over-ripened fruit.
Secondary aromas and flavors are revealed by the vinification process post-fermentation :
- In the case of a white-wine, if the wine has gone through a lees-aging process, we should be able to identify aromas that would usually be found in a bakery! We would use terms such as ‘bread’, ‘brioche’, ‘toast’, ‘yeast’ and ‘biscuit’ to describe the wine.
- For a red wine, we could identify aromas such as butter and cream, vanilla, caramel, smoke and chocolate for exemple, testament that the wine has been through a second fermentation and has been aged in oak.
It also depends on the type of barrel used for the aging of white and red wines, as this choice will impact the aromas that are revealed upon tasting.
Finally, the third group of aromas are brought on by the aging process. These flavors will vary depending on the packaging of the wine (bottle, barrel, steel vat…)
- In the case of an aging in glass bottles, a white wine may develop aromas of dried fruit, honey, cinnamon and toast – among other things ; A red wine aged in glass will develop leathery aromas, game flavor and hints of mushroom.
- Over time, fruity aromas will progress. White wines will develop hints of apricot, marmelade and dried fruit. Red wines will hint at dire prunes, dried blackberries and prune jam.
This information can be used for your next wine-tasting! Of course, the aromas and flavors are not limited by this list and each palate is different.
We would be happy for you to come to Chateau Picon for a technical wine tasting where we can put your new-found knowledge to the test!
Warning, alcohol can damage your health, please drink responsibly.