68 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 80 PART 1 JANUARY 2022
In a recent column I ventured my conclusions on why wine aromas and
flavours are described as being of anything except grapes. Given that this
way of describing them is and probably always will be the case, I thought
I’d discuss a handy device that will make you sound like a tipple-talk
Part of the mystique and also the difficulty in wine appreciation is in
describing what you smell and taste. Many people are inhibited by their
worry that they will not use the right terms and look ignorant.
Academic researchers are always on the look for a niche to make a reputation.
One such scientist in the Department of Viticulture and Oenology at
UC Davis stepped up to the plate. In the 1980s, Dr. Ann Noble and some colleagues
looked at research done in the beer and scotch industries on methods
of identifying of aromas and flavours and developed a wine aroma
wheel. Their initial use for it was to enhance the accuracy of communication
among members of the wine industry on wine odours, but it quickly caught
on with wine enthusiasts. It was enhanced to create a catalogue of commonly
used aroma terms that were in turn organized into groups by origin
and/or similarity of smell. It was then displayed in a wheel of many colours
that allows you to spin through different categories and subcategories.
Due to copyright issues, I cannot show it all, but have extracted a portion
dealing with “fruity” descriptions. However, the web seems oblivious to copyright
issues, so if you wish to see the whole wheel, just search “wine aroma
wheel” and you can see it in living colour, not the grey tones shown here.
There are numerous videos showing how to use it on YouTube. I suggest you
start by going to the source, a video interview of Dr. Ann Noble herself on its
development and use: <www.youtube.com/watch
The wheel breaks down wine aromas into 12 basic
categories and then further subdivides them into
different aromas that can fall into those main categories.
c Chemical – Includes aromas like sulfur and
c Pungent – Aromas like alcohol and menthol
Fruity section of Aroma Wheel.
Copyright A.C. Noble, 1990.
c Oxidized – Aromas like sherry and bruised apple
c Microbiological – Aromas like yeast and lactic acid
c Floral – Aromas like violets and orange blossom
c Spicy – Aromas like licorice/anise and black pepper
c Fruity – Aromas like citrus, peach, blackcurrant, cherry, plum and different