Each grape varietal will carry distinct aromatic markers which enables the wine connoisseur to identify the grape varietal in the glass. This is also true of wine produced from the same grape varietal across wine growing regions. The aroma, or bouquet of wine is one of the most delightful aspects of wine appreciation and contributes greatly to the overall savor of the wine.
When the wine drinker begins the journey of learning and appreciating the various notes in the wine’s bouquet, they begin a dazzling sensory exploration of this ancient and fascinating drink.
But there are definitely aromas that send a warning as to the wine’s general condition. The condition of a wine will be greatly determined by the initial bottling and storage of the wine.
If some unwanted bacteria is introduced during the bottling, or a pour seal or faulty cork is used, the wine will begin to oxidize. Oxidation can be recognized by a “pruney” aroma and a browning of the brilliant red color in red wines, or a somewhat amber tone in white wines. This is an indication that the bottle was not sealed properly during bottling, or in some cases, if the wine was stored upright, the cork might dry out enough to admit air into the wine, causing the oxidation process.
Fortunately, if you purchased the wine in a good wine shop, many will stand by their products and either refund or replace the bottle.
The second source of unpleasant aroma will be from “corking”. If the cork is flawed or contains some unwanted bacteria, it will cause a musty aroma and rather moldy taste.
However in many cases, a very old bottle of wine may exhibit some of the same characteristics due to prolonged storage. In this case the solution is to decant the wine or keep swirling it in the glass until the true aromas have been rejuvenated in the wine. If the bouquet does not improve, the wine is corked. This can also be confirmed by cloudiness in the wine when it is held up to the light.
Any notes of vinegar indicate that the wine has turned, and may only be fit for salad dressing. This wine vinegar is the same as any commercial vinegar and can be used in any recipe that calls for wine vinegar.
Good wine will always yield aromas of fruit, the heady smell of alcohol, some tannin from the grape skins and perhaps some woodiness if wood has been introduced to the wine during the aging process.
Regardless, all wine should breathe in the glass to enhance the aroma and flavor of the wine. This is the reason that wine-lovers swirl the wine in the glass and smell the wine several times before tasting. The wine you drink, whatever the style, will only improve by some initial exposure to the air.
The bottom line is that wine aroma should be the first enticing aspect of the wine, which will stimulate the taste buds and compel the wine lover to raise a glass and taste this delicious nectar. Whether the wine is an old favorite or a new experience, take some time to fully enjoy the aroma before that first sip and realize the maximum flavor from that glass of wine.