Wine – the bridge to togetherness

Wine brings people together, it’s a bridge that can unify us.  Sit down with a glass of wine at a restaurant or bar and conversation is sure to blossom.  We can talk about our love for wine, the history of wine in Europe and the US, or other outstanding wine regions around the world including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South America, and the list goes on.  We can talk about our own wine collection, the great wines on the market right today, regions that had fantastic years, great buys, and the prominent wine makers producing today.  And when it comes to the wine itself, we can have all kinds of fun with flavors and aroma comparisons.

The wine aroma wheel

Dr. Ann C. Noble invented the wine aroma wheel at UC Davis to demystify wine talks in the 1980’s, and it’s still the most widely used platform for wine discussion in the world today.  Not only does the wheel represent aromas like colors that blend into one another to form new features, the wine aroma wheel provides a blueprint for features of a wine.  When like a sleuth we stick our nose into a wine glass and go searching for clues, the wine wheel can be the magnifying lens to heighten our perception.   Tasting wine with the aroma wheel is like getting a map of an area before we go hiking, it provides the possibilities for the mysteries a wine might hold.

There are 11 general categories and over 100 distinctive features.  The general categories themselves are interesting to behold: woody, nutty, caramel, earthy, chemical, pungent, oxidized, microbiological, spicy, fruity, and herbaceous.  The 100+ distinctive features are fun to locate in wine like finding Waldo in a detailed picture maze.  My favorite descriptor is barnyard funk, and I’ve tasted it before, but wouldn’t recommend it, but I checked it off the list so there’s that.  Other funky descriptors are sweaty, horsey, tar, burnt match, skunk, and the list goes on.  And though we drinkers tend to appreciate the fruity aromas best, the funky ones actually provide deeper layers and dimensions for wines which at first we may not even be able to locate, but with practice can identify and appreciate for the subtle nuances that bring balance to the fruit we love to admire.

And of course because we shameless promote here at, LOL, you should know the better the wine glasses the more aromas you’ll be able to identify.  Using a cheap wine glass would be like Sherlock Holmes attempting to find clues with a broken magnifying glass, not a good idea.  The top wine glass companies actually do extensive research on the shapes of stemware to determine optimal aroma conditions.  Sure excellent stemware costs a little more like quality always does, but like any quality item, the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the aroma is in the stemware.

Andrew V.
Calistoga, Ca.

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