Learning and enjoying tasting: The smell

Tuesday February 14th, 2012

Wine world for everybody.

Wine world for everybody.

One week more we are going to deny hackneyed subject and show you that enjoying a wine is not only for professionals.

The latest week we learn about the sight and in this one we are going to learn about another crucial sense which is the smell: the sense that establishes the wine aromas and bouquet.

Depending on the stage of a wine’s development and the winemaking techniques that have been used in its production, the aromas can be classified as: primary, secondary and tertiary aromas.

The primary aromas come directly from the essential grape variety and yeast features. They are related with the variety tipicity, the soil and the weather of the region. They determine and emphasise a wine’s character, and they are more intense if the wines are young. The different nuances that can be perceived within these aromas are: fruity, floral and herbaceous aromas.

Secondary aromas are those derived from the fermentation process and they are closely related to the usual chemical reactions that take place during the winemaking process (alcoholic, malolactic, and so on).

Tertiary aromas are usually complex and they depend on the type and degree of aging. It is very usual for them to have a spicy nature because of the different kinds of oak barrels employed, the degree to which the barrels are toasted and their age (smoky, vanilla, leather, tobacco…)

Moreover,  it is usually used to refer to the bouquet that only the old wines have. The bouquet is determined by:

                -Oxidation: wines that are kept in contact with the air

                -Reduction: wines kept in anaerobic conditions

Finally, the aftertaste refers to the taste that stays in your mouth after swallowing the wine. It should be pleasant and in fine wines it should last a long time after the wine is gone.

As a resume, here you are the ten series of aromas:

  • Animal (leather, wet wool, meaty)
  • Balsamic (resinous, medicinal)
  • Chemical (sulfuric acid or acetic acid)
  • Oak (comes from the tannins)
  • Vegetal (herbaceous)
  • Spice (typical bouquet from the great aged wines)
  • Floral (lime trees, roses, violets…)
  • Fruit (redcurrant, raspberry, apple…)
  • Ester (esters from fatty acids from the alcoholic fermentation)
  • Empyreumatic (burnt sugar, smoke, tar, iodine, rubber)


In the next post of Learning and Enjoying tasting, we will learn about the taste. Remember: If you want to improve the best method is practicing by tasting different wines. So choose one, and enjoy it!




  1. se echan en falta los olores en vinos defectuosos, tan importantes en la cata como los anteriores y me refiero al:

    1. Hola Carlos! Pues tienes mucha razón, así que vamos a hacer un artículo que recoja los defectos que podamos encontrar en el vino. Pronto lo encontrarás en nuestra web. Muchas gracias por tu sugerencia.

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Principal authors in Bodegas Martín Códax
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