The aromas of wine and where they come from

Wine club wine tasting

Wine tasting in St. Helena, CA

One thing that will help you sound more knowledgeable at a wine tasting held by a wine club is the aroma wheel developed by This wheel classifies aromas according to the point in the winemaking process where they appear.

Primary aromas come from the grape itself, or where it was grown. Most of the different aromas come from this. The categories include flower, tree fruit, red fruit, dried fruit, vegetable and a category called “noble rot” which includes beeswax, ginger and honey. (Tomato is listed under “vegetable” rather than “red fruit,” which will irritate some people.)

Secondary, or microbial, aromas come from the fermentation process. They include truffle, sourdough and butter. Tertiary aromas are only found in old wine. The categories are general aging and oak aging, and include such classic aromas as smoke and vanilla.

Then there are the faults. These are aromas like farmyard, vinegar, bad eggs and cork taint that make a wine less popular. Hopefully these won’t come up at your wine tasting.

Wine tasting at a vineyard just outside St. Helena

Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley, a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, holds tastings in its barrel caves, where visitors can sample current releases and library wines and learn about the process of making and storing the wine. Cave tastings are $65, but one tasting fee can be waived by joining their wine club or making a $100 purchase. Join their wine club today and schedule a tasting.


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