Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

bouquet, oft-ridiculed tasting term for the smell of a wine, particularly that of a mature or maturing wine. Although its original French meaning was ‘small wood’ (from the same root as the Italian bosco and the English bosky), bouquet is a French word for a bunch of flowers which has been used to describe the perfume of a wine since the first half of the 19th century. It is used loosely by many wine tasters to describe any pleasant wine smell or smells but, just as a bouquet (rather than a bunch) of flowers suggests a composition of several varied elements, many wine professionals distinguish between the simple aroma of the grape and the bouquet of the more complex compounds which evolve as a result of fermentation, élevage, and bottle ageing. There is little consistency in usage, however, and many authorities differ about the point in a wine’s life cycle at which a wine’s smell stops being an aroma and becomes a bouquet. See also ageing, ester, flavour compounds, and flavour precursors.