Have you ever been to a winery, looked at the tasting notes and wondered if you’d stepped into your local fruit & veggie shop by mistake?
Where do flavours of grapefruit, peach, rockmelon, lime, tobacco and dark chocolate come from, if wine is made from grapes?
Does the winemaker squeeze the juice out of the fruit and add it to the wine?
Good question. We get asked this a lot at Cellar Door.
Without you having to dust off your science textbooks, here’s a pretty simple explanation of what's going on …
1. Grapes themselves have flavours that may remind you of other tastes or smells.
2. Then there is the fermentation process, that’s part of the winemaking process, when the winemaker turns grape juice into wine. What happens is the winemaker adds yeast which converts the sugars in grape juice into alcohol.
This fermentation process unlocks chemical compounds (smells) that are shared by other fruits and foods which we recognise.
There are dozens if not hundreds of compounds that can be found in wine, and if you start mixing and matching them, you get ever more complex flavours and aromas.
Our 2021 Verdelho for example has aromas of mandarin, rockmelon with flavours of pear, passionfruit and a grapefruit citrus finish. In the reds, the 2018 Reserve Shiraz displays rich aromas of mulberry, ripe plum with a hint of violet and rosemary with flavours of rich fruit, vanilla and coffee on the finish. All made with grapes!!!
Oak barrels also add flavours like spice, caramel, toast and cedar when wines are aged or fermented in them.
Over the years, wine buffs have developed a language for talking about wine, which includes describing the flavours and aromas that a wine reminds them of.
This is not unique to wine: beer nerds, Scotch whisky lovers and coffee connoisseurs are also jumping on the bandwagon and using some pretty amazing descriptors to describe the aroma, taste and flavour of their beverages.
So, let’s have a look at the difference between aroma, taste and flavour as there are subtle differences between them.
Aroma - An aroma refers to an actual aromatic compound with a specific scent that can be identified by smelling.
Strawberries, coffee and bacon all have a specific aromatic compound that allows us to identify them solely by their smell.
Taste - Only your tongue only can sense taste and feel texture,
it can identify (or taste):
Your tounge can also feel heat from alcohol, astringency from tannin and creaminess from milk.
Flavour -This is where the brain’s association between what it smells through the nose, tastes with the tongue and feels in the mouth takes place.
For example, the flavour of strawberry is the brains association between a specific aromatic compound; a sweet and sour taste; and a specific tactile sensation of the strawberry being chewed.
The best place to learn more about the characteristics of wine and make the association between the sensations you can smell and taste is to come along to one of our super-popular ‘Wine 101’ Wine Appreciation classes.
Here you can taste a range of Upper Reach wines and match the flavours with fruit, nuts, herbs and more.
After this class you’ll be tasting like a pro!