Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

aroma, imprecise tasting term for a relatively simple smell such as that of a grape, fermenting must, or young wine. Originally from the Greek word meaning ‘spice’, it has evolved so that in generally current English it means ‘pleasant smell’ (as opposed to odours, which may be distinctly nasty). Wine-tasting professionals tend to use the word aroma to distinguish the smells associated with young wines from the more complex aromatic compounds which result from extended bottle age, often referred to as bouquet. In Australia, the word aroma is often used to refer specifically to varietal characteristics rather than those associated with winemaking or ageing. Those who distinguish between aroma and bouquet differ as to the point in a wine’s life cycle which divides the use of the two terms. For tasters schooled at the University of bordeaux, bouquet includes fermentation smells, for example, as well as all those associated with oak ageing and bottle ageing. Others, particularly Burgundians, may refer to grape aromas as primary aromas, fermentation and oak ageing aromas as secondary aromas, and bottle ageing aromas as either tertiary aromas or bouquet. See also flavour, aroma wheel, flavour compounds, and ester.