Wine Aromas

Its fragrance comes from the grape, the fermenting of must, time and oak-aging. A delicate balance offering up unique sensations. The aroma of wine is a symphony of nuances and variations. Discover its secrets.

What is the scent of wine? To answer this question, all you have to do is visit a winery. The answer will literally be right under your nose. Wine has a characteristic and wholly original aroma that develops as the grape juice or must ferments during alcoholic fermentation.

The olfactory impression we get as our nose picks up on scattered aromas and substances is what defines the scent. This is why the predominant aroma will vary depending on when you visit the winery. During the harvest, the freshly picked grapes give off a sweet, fruity aroma. Later on, the fragrance changes as the yeasts transform sugar into alcohol, and the must turns into wine. And finally, if you step into the barrel-aging room, the wood—usually oak—not only imparts aromas to the wine it contains, but also fills the entire enclosed space of the cellar with aromatic compounds reminiscent of wood and spices. There is, however, a deep prevalent aroma that one always finds in a winery: an unmistakable wine aroma.

Why then do notes describing the aroma of a particular wine always tell us about fruit, herbs, flowers, spices, minerals and other elements that we usually find confusing? Why doesn’t anyone ever say that wine smells like wine?


Aromas reminiscent of roasted nuts (almonds, hazelnuts) and coffee beans or toasted bread. They are generally related to the barrel and its level of toast.


A family of aromas that evokes the smell of certain minerals (flint) or rocks (chalk, quartz, tuff, graphite). These are the aromas that remind us of wet stones, earth dampened by rain or the graphite in a wooden pencil.


Aromas reminiscent of dried fruit and nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, prunes, almonds, dates, raisins, dried figs and apricots, etc.) One could say that they are characteristic of wines at their peak, both whites (hazelnut aromas in a Chardonnay) and dessert wines (raisins in a sweet Muscat or prunes in port).


A wine is described as fruity when its aromas make us think of scents in the fruit series (grape, peach, apple, lemon, orange, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, cassis, blueberry, pineapple, apricot, passion fruit, lychee, etc.) The fruit characteristics of a wine are usually revealed on the nose.


The most delicate aromas we will find in a wine are floral, bringing to mind the fragrance of certain flowers. This association is limited to very specific grape varieties, because they are the only ones that possess these characteristics.


Spiced notes can be imparted by the grape variety or by barrel aging. Certain grapes contain spice aromas as part of their varietal profile. For example, Merlot and Tempranillo are both reminiscent of pepper. Other spices—including vanilla, clove and cinnamon—are found in oak-aged wines. They are imparted by the wood and add to the unique character and complexity of a wine.


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