From Lemon, Apple and Black Currant to Moldy Cork, Wet Dog and Tar, there are many words used to describe the aromas and flavors of wine. If you’re new to the world of wine tasting, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the complex vocabulary used by experts. Some of them are tasty sounding, some of them not so much – but they are all necessary in order to help you find, ultimately, the bottles of wine you’ll enjoy the most.
Fortunately there are multitudes of ways to learn this specialized vocabulary and begin applying it to your own wine tasting experiences.
Wheel of Wine
One of the most convenient solutions is the “Aroma Wheel of Wine.” First conceived and executed by Ann C. Noble, a former professor in the UC Davis Department of Vinticulture and Enology (the study of grape growing and winemaking). It’s since been copied by many others, and can be found easily online.
The Wine Wheel is a graphic breakdown of the various fragrances identified in wine, broken down into color-coded categories such as “Chemical”, “Floral” or “Spicy.” By moving from the general categories at the center of the wheel to the specific aromas at the outermost tier, wine novices can train themselves to distinguish and appreciate the subtle nuances in different vintages.
You can print out a copy of the wine wheel online, or purchase a sturdier version to carry with you on your wine tasting adventures. There are multiple versions available, included one especially for sparkling wines, so be sure to choose one that suits your wine tasting favorites!
Online WineFlavor & Aroma Dictionaries
Many resources online also provide help with the complex language of wine tasting. For instance, check out the useful PDFs from AromaDictionary.com. They offer three free lists in PDF format that list typical flavors by type of wine. Did you know there are 25 flavors generally associated with Pinot Noir?
Of course, a list doesn’t do you much good if you don’t know what all those terms are supposed to mean. That’s where dictionar ylistings come in handy, like this one from Wikipedia, which covers all the essential wine tasting terminology you’ll need to become an expert, from Accessible (“a wine that is easy to drink”) to Zippy (“A wine with noticeable acidity that is balanced with enough fruit structure so as to not taste overly acidic.”).
Reverse Wine Flavor Searching
Do you know what flavors you like, but don’t know what kind of wines to find them in? Try out the Flavor Profile search by The Wine Web! This handy tool lets you enter the flavors you like, and not only pinpoints the types of wine you might like, but also suggests specific vintages for you to try.
Know Your Wine
As a final resource, we present this great visual chart from WineFolly.com. With this handy reference, you can easily track the kinds of wines you like by flavor. Maybe you’ll even discover something new to try!