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ACACIA

The smell of the acacia flower often gives Chardonnay or Chasselas wines their young aroma, when they are moderately acidic

Grand Larousse du VIN

A

  • ACACIA

The smell of the acacia flower often gives Chardonnay or Chasselas wines their young aroma, when they are moderately acidic.

  • ACIDITY

Felt by the tongue, but also by the secretion of saliva and by the acidic impression that it leaves on mucous membranes, acidity plays a vital role in how the wine tastes on your palate and in the overall balance of flavours.

  • AGRESSIF

AGRESSIVE Wine character that gives the impression of attacking your mucous membranes with excessive acidity and/or astringency.

  • ALCOOL

Main component of wine after water, alcohol loses its burning and drying character found in eaux de vie, and takes on a very pronounced sweet taste, which is a key part of the sweetness of dry wines.

  • ALMOND OR ALMOND 

ALMOND OR ALMOND TREE The smell of the almond tree flower has sometimes been detected in Sauvignon and Sylvaner white wines. The smell of dry almond, similar to vanilla, is fairly common in ageing Chardonnays. The bitter almond character is a component of many primeur white crus, and gives the discrete nutty taste found in some mature red wines. The roasted almond aroma adds charm and distinction to white wines of a certain age.

  • AMBER

 The highly distinctive, discrete smell of amber is found in some Chardonnay Grandes Cuvées (Champagne, Chablis, Côte d'Or) and some great sweet white wines from South West France.

  • ANIMAL

A generic term to describe a group of animal smells (fur, game, leather, etc.) that are characteristic in mature red wines. When in young wines, these smells are often unpleasant, but disappear when left to breathe.

  • ANISEED

  Traces of this smell are found in the bouquet of some white wines that have reached peak maturity.

  • APPLE

The various apple varieties have specific aromas found with various intensity in a number of white wines (Muscadet, Sauvignon, etc.).

  • ASTRINGENCY

Sensation of dryness due to the tannins, mainly present in red wines. During the ageing of wines, the astringency mellows as the tannins weaken and lose intensity, sharpness and density.

  • ATTACK

 The first impression felt as soon as the wine hits your palate.

  • AUSTERE

 A term applied to red wines where tannic acidity is dominant in the absence of a bouquet that adds charm. 

B

  • BALANCED

The quality of a wine where there is a satisfactory balance between the various groups of flavours (alcohol, acidity and sweetness in red wines) without dominance or deficiency of one or another.

  • BALSAMIC

 Fairly resinous smells (pine, cedar, juniper, new oak wood, etc.) present in all young wines matured in new barrels. They are also prominent in mature great red wines.

  • BANANA

 A smell often developed on young wines or primeurs, in particular in wines made from carbonic maceration. It must be toned down with other flowery and fruity aromas, as in Beaujolais or Mâcon blanc, otherwise the wine's nose reminds you of nail varnish.

  • BARREL (TASTE)

Bad taste given to wine if the wood of barrels has not been maintained during an empty period, resulting in mould, pitting and rotting.

  • BAY TREE

Spicy aroma that characterises certain southern grape varieties, in particular, Syrah and Grenache, after a few years of ageing.

  • BEER

A smell similar to beer is sometimes found in Chasselas white wines when they start to lose their freshness..

  • BERGAMOT

An essence that has an exceptionally pleasant smell that is found in aromatic wines at a certain stage of their ageing in bottles.

  • BITTER

There is no bitterness in wine, except in a few red wines, when it is transient and light. Otherwise, it becomes an anomaly.

  • BLUEBERRY

An aroma very often associated with wild berries (see this word) and which is found under the same conditions.

  • BODY

The words "body", "full-bodied" or "roundness" apply to wines that are both dominant in tannins + sweetness. The adjective "full-bodied" also implies a certain alcoholic richness.
.

  • BOTTLE SHOCK

Used to describe a wine that temporarily suffers from muted or disjointed flavours due to travel or shaking.

  • BOUQUET

BOUQUET The combination of aromatic characters of a mature wine, if consistent and homogeneous.These various nuances follow on from one another, superimposing as a subtle and agreable whole.

  • BROOM

The yellow Spanish broom flower has a strong and sweet smell that reminds you of gillyflowers, which forms the beautiful aromas of Chardonnary and very sweet wines.

  • BRILLIANT

 A term qualifying the brightness of the wine, meaning its potential to reflect light. If the wine is not brilliant and is cloudy, it is considered to be flawed.

  • BURNT

Smells with undertones of tar, soot, burnt wood, caramel, burnt bread, as well as to a lesser extent, tea, coffee, cocoa, tobacco and biscuit, etc., belong to this category It is often preferably described as smokey, toasty, grilled, roasted or burnt.

  • BUTTER

This aromatic nuance is sometimes found in batches of mature, not very acidic and sweet white wines. 

C

  • CAPITEUX

Caractère des vins dont la richesse de substance se double d'un degré alcoolique élevé.

  • CARAMEL

 Aromatic and common character of tired, oxidised or mellow white wines.

  • CARNATION

An aromatic nuance found in certain red wines with a bouquet that is a little austere.

  • CASSIS

L'arôme du fruit et du jus de cassis fait corps en toute circonstance avec le bouquet du pinot noir, en quelque pays qu'il soit récolté. On le trouve parfois dans le fruité d'un grand nombre de cépages rouges (merlot, cinsaut, syrah, mourvèdre,...) quand ils arrivent à leur maturité gustative.

  • CAUDALIE

Unit of measure of the gustatory persistence or "length" of a wine on the palate after swallowing. One caudalie = one second

  • CHERRY

The aroma of various cherry varieties are often found in the bouquet of all sorts of red wines.

  • CHINESE ANISE

An aroma similar to aniseed, with a stronger smell.

  • CINNAMON 

The smell of cinnamon is sometimes found in very sweet (Jurançon, Sauternes) or dry (Pouilly-Fuissé, Corton-Charlemagne) white wine grands crus HEADY Characterises wines that are rich and also high in alcohol.

  • CLARITY

The state of transparency of the wine's colour, which may be crystalline, brilliant, clear, hazy, milky, blurry or cloudy.

  • CLOSED

This terms qualifies a wine that lacks bouquet.

  • CLOVE

This smell is found in red crus from the Rhône Valley that have aged for a few years.

  • COARSE

An excessively astringent character when tannins "are rough" on the mucous membranes of the mouth with exaggerated persistence and intensity.

  • COCOA

 An aromatic nuance sometimes present in very mature, fruity and spicy wines.

  • COFFEE 

A subtle smell that develops in the bouquet of high-quality red wines. 

  • COLOUR

Name attributed to the colour of the wine.

  • CORK

 The commonly accepted term "cork taste" describes the extremely unpleasant, altered and mouldy cork smell and taste that the cork has given to the wine.

  • CORKY

Unpleasant smell of damp and mouldy cork, caused by a faulty cork or a lack of hygiene in the cellar.

  • CUT HAY

Aromatic note specific to red wines that mainly occurs during the phase when they change from fermentation aromas to gustatory maturity aromas.

D

  • DELICATE

Description applied to wines that have fine structures, but that do not lack appeal or character.

  • DEVELOPED

Describes a wine that has reached its peak fullness. It therefore provides a perfect expression of its olfactory and gustatory personality.

  • DRIED-OUT

Means that a wine has reached the end of its life and has become bitter due to its tannins during ageing.

  • DRY

An adjective applied to white wines lacking sugar. A white wine is said to be dry when its sweetness is discrete or slightly recessive, without affecting the harmony of the overall impression.

E

  • EGLANTINE ROSE

An aroma that is sometimes found in light and very fine wines.

  • ELEGANT

This qualification means no heaviness and a certain amount of refinement.

  • EMPYREUMATIC

Smells with undertones of tar, soot, burnt wood, caramel, burnt bread, as well as to a lesser extent, tea, coffee, cocoa, tobacco and biscuit, etc., belong to this category It is often preferably described as "smokey", "toasty", "grilled", "roasted" or "burnt".

  • EXCESSIVELY SWEET

Used to describe a red wine where a slightly dominant sweetness prevails over all other sensations.

F

  • FADED

A faded wine has lost its brilliance, part of its best aromas and its freshness.

  • FENNEL

An aromatic connotation sometimes found in fully-ripe dry white wines.

  • FERN

This aromatic character is specific to top-quality white wines and gives them an airy bouquet.

  • FERMENT

The taste of ferment is an unpleasant odour, from the decomposition of yeasts during the wines stay on lee.

  • FIG

The aroma of dried fig, often combined with cooked or candied strawberry, is a common component of sweet red wines like Port or Banyuls, but also of dry red wines already aged from exceptionally ripe vintages FLOWERY The character of a wine bouquet dominated by aromas of flowers.

  • FIRMNESS

A character of a firm wine, i.e. it has a slightly excessive level of tannins + acidity.

  • FLABBY

A character of wines that lack acidity even when tannin content and sweetness is normal.

  • FULL

Used to describe a wine that gives the impression of fillling your mouth with its balanced substantial richness, hence the impression of fullness.

  • FULL BODIED 

A term applied to wines that "fill your mouth well", but that are not heavy. 

  • FUR

Animal-type odours, specific to already aged red wines.

  • FRESH

Aromas are said to be fresh (mint, lemony) when they create sensations similar to cold or a refreshing effect.

  • FRUITY

First stage of the wine's bouquet, after alcoholic fermentation. The aromas are dominated by fresh fruit. This adjective mostly applies to red and rosé wines, although white wines also have strong fruity smells, such as apple, lemon and bananas, etc.

G

  • GAME (SMELL)

Fairly pronounced animal character, but not always unpleasant, that reminds you of the smell of game meat. It is found in developed red wines like Burgundy Pinot Noir.

  • GARRIGUE

This word is used to desribe the smell of aromatic and dried herbs that are often found in Mediterranean red wines.

  • GENEROUS

An adjective applied mainly to wines with high alcohol content.

  • GILLYFLOWER

A small ornamental cruciferae that smells fairly similar to the best aromas of Chardonnay and Chenin.

  • GUNFLINT

The gunflint taste describes a smell that is specific to some lively and light white wines (Sauvignon, Muscadet, Bourgogne Aligoté).

  • GRAPEFRUIT

An aromatic character found similar to very acidic sparkling white wines that have not yet lost their ferments. It disappears with secondary fermentation and clarification of the wine.

  • GRASSY

A taste that reminds you of the smell of cut grass, or the green parts of plants, and is considered as an unpleasant nuance.

  • GREEN

An adjective used, by comparing with green fruits, to describe an extremely acidic white, red or rosé wine, whose lack of sweetness leaves this excessive acidity exposed.

  • GRENADINE

The aromatic character of rosé wines from Côtes du Rhône and Provence.

  • GRILLED

Particular nuance of certain aromatic notes. The aroma of "toast" is found in some red crus, and "roasted almond" is one of the exclusive aromas of great white wines when they start their reduction phase in bottles.

H

  • HARD

A character given to red wines where acidity and tannins are excessive, giving both astringency and harshness. The weakness or lack of sweetness makes this character worse.

  • HARSH

Wine which has austere aromas due to the combination of dominant tannins + acidity.

  • HARMONIOUS

The quality of a successful wine where each group of flavours (alcohol, acidity and sweetness in white wines; alcohol, tannins, acidity and sweetness in red wines) pleasantly mingle together offering an appealing overall impression.

  • HAVANA

The smell of traces of green tobacco in very fine red wines. See Tobacco as well.

  • HAWTHORN

 Fairly common aromatic character in dry and fairly green, young white wines.

  • HAZELNUT

A fairly common aromatic character in quality white wines that are a few years old (Chardonnay).

  • HONEYSUCKLE

 Aromatic character of some white wines made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon and light aromatic grape varieties. 

  • HEAVY

Character of a wine loaded with substances for all of its components, and more specifically tannins and sweetness, which deprives it of any lightness, suppleness or freshness.

  • HONEY

An aromatic character that reminds you of bees honey, which is highly significant in mellow and sweet wines.

  • HUMUS

An aromatic character, also described as undergrowth or dead leaves, found in fairly fine and already aged red wines.

  • HYACINTH

A floral smell often found in aromatic white grape varieties, after a few years in the bottle (Sauvignon, Rhine grape varieties, fine Muscats)

I

  • IODINE

A term given by comparing wines whose smell reminds you of the seaside.

  • IVY

The smell of ivy leaf is an olfactory character that is found by comparing a number of Cabernet wines in their primitive aroma.

J

  • JAM

A neologism accepted during tasting to express any aroma or flavour that reminds you of jam.

  • JUNIPER

An aromatic charater sometimes found in some aromatic crus.

L

  • LACTIC ACID (SMELL)

A smell produced by the flawed development of lactic fermentation or undeterminded combinations ranging from a fresh or fermented cheesy smell.

  • LEATHER

The smells of different types of leather are often found in some red crus that are a few years old (Bandol, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Madiran, Corton, Hermitage, Chambertin, etc.)

  • LEGS (OR TEARS)

Colourless droplets that run along the insides of the glass after swirling. They indicate the wine's alcoholic richness.

  • LEMON (LEMONGRASS)

 An aromatic character often found in young, acidic and light white wines. The lemongrass character, which is much finer than lemon, is sometimes found in light primeur reds.

  • LEMON BALM

This aromatic note, similar to lemon zest, but lighter and less acidic, is found in young white wines.

  • LICHEN

An aromatic character present in some red wines

  • LIME (FLOWER)

An aromatic nuance found in some white wines with an extremely delicate bouquet.

  • LIQUORICE

An aromatic character often found at the finish in some red wines.

  • LIVELY

A word describing a wine that is easy and pleasant to drink.

  • LONG

Used to describe a wine that leaves a lasting aromatic taste on your palate after swallowing.

M

  • MADERISATION

Oxidation through which a white wine takes on the brown colour and the taste of Madeira. It is a serious flaw.

  • MEATY

 Name give to all sweet substances of wine (alcohol, glycerin, sugar), especially in red wines, if this group of substances is dominant and highlighted by a lack of hard sensations.

  • MERCAPTAN

A very strong and unpleasant sulphur smell that reminds you of rotten eggs.

  • MINT

There are two nuances, peppery mint and fresh mint, traces of which are found in some white wines, adding freshness and vivacity to the bouquet.

  • MUSHROOM

A pleasant smell, similar to button mushrooms, often perceived with developed wines. It can be unpleasant and similar to mould, if the wine has been produced with grapes affected by grey mould.

  • MUSKY

An aromatic character of slightly foul animal secretion when aired, found in various red grands crus that have aged somewhat.

N

  • NERVOUS

A physical character mainly attributed to white wines, sometimes to red wines, when high acidity and sweetness gives a conflicting and tense impression.

  • NOSE

All of the olfactory characters of a wine.

  • NUTMEG

An aromatic spice evoked in very sweet white wines of a certain age and in some red wines.

O

  • ONION (SMELL)

An aromatic character produced by chemical reduction and that can be found in very old red wines.

  • ORANGE (ZEST)

This slightly dried out substance has an exceptionally flattering smell, resembling young white wines from fully-ripe harvests.

  • ORANGE TREE (FLOWER)

Aromatic character of the bouquet of some Sauvignons and other aromatic grape varieties.

P

  • PALATE 

The word "palate" covers all of the sensations experienced.

  • PASTY

Used to describe fairly thick wines that become heavier due to a high amount of astringency.

  • PEACH

The taste and smell of white or yellow peach and its stone, often present in Côtes du Rhône red wines, Beaujolais crus and some aromatic white wines.

  • PEACH TREE (FLOWER)

An extremely delicate aromatic nuance, similar to the smell of pistachio or bitter almond that is sometimes found in young and fresh aromatic wines.

  • PERSISTENCE

Gustatory persistence is the overall time that the wine impacts your mouth after swallowing. Also see Caudalie.

  • PEONY

The slighly peppery smell of this flower is also found in wines that have this colour.

  • PEAR

The aromatic nuance of various pear varieties is quite often found in supple white wines with fruity bouquets.

  • PEPPER

A very common aromatic nuance in many quality red wines, during the airing and subtle smelling phase, and during the final phase on the palate, where it leaves an after-taste.

  • PINE

An aromatic character found in some extremely fine and high-class red wines.

  • PINEAPPLE

A fragant smell that is found in a large number of white wines when harvests have reached an exceptionally good physical and aromatic maturity.

  • PISTACHIO

An extremely fine smell resembling bitter almond, but that is more delicate, that is sometimes found in red wines with nuanced and subtle bouquets.

  • PRUNE

An aromatic nuance also called rancio, defined by hints of stewed fruit such as prunes. Typically found in Port and red wines, it is considered as a flaw in young red wines.

  • PUNGENT

 Pungency means a combination of astringency and tartness, with quite a fairly repulsive coarseness.

Q

  • QUINCE


An aroma detected in rich, sweet white wines, combined with other fully-ripe or candied fruit aromas.

R

  • RACY

Used to describe a great wine that is exceptionally elegant and distinctive.

  • RANCIO

An evolving aromatic nuance (prune, tobacco, leather, madeira) typically found in natural sweet aged wines, Port, developed red wines and old eaux-de-vie.

  • RASPBERRY

The aroma of raspberry is a very important bouquet component in the fruitiness of Pinot Noir wines from Côte de Beaune, and also in a large number of aromatic red wines (e.g. Beaujolais, Côtes-du-Rhône).

  • REDCURRENT

An aromatic character sometimes found in Clairette wines or primeur reds.

  • RESIN

A balsamic aromatic character that forms the bouquets of fine and distinguished red wines.

  • ROSE

A primary aroma nuance characteristic of Gewürztraminer and various varieties of Muscat. Wilted rose is a delicate nuance in the bouquet of some fine and aged red wines.

  • ROUND

This terms qualifies the sweet tactile sensation of a wine when it is rich in alcohol and/or sugar.

  • ROUNDED

Used to describe a red wine that has enough sweetness and tannins, without excess giving a good impression of consistency and substantial richness.

  • ROUGH

High level of astringency.

S

  • SAPPY

A professional term from Bordeaux that expresses the expansive character of aromas and fullness of the flavours when the wine flows around your mouth.

  • SHALLOW

Qualification applied to red wines when they have lost their "meatiness", i.e. their sweetness, due to excessive or flawed ageing.

  • SILKY

A word expressing the finesse of the wine's contact in your mouth.

  • SHARP

Used to describe a wine that is slighly dominant in acidity + tannins, giving an acidic taste.

  • SMOOTH

This term applies to wines that are easy to drink, without astringency and have an equal amount of fresh acidity and sweetness without being heavy.

  • SMOKY

A smell that reminds you of chimney soot, which is nearly always present in Pessac-Léognan red crus and in some Côte de Nuits crus. See Empyreumatic as well.

  • SOFT

Used to describe wine that is easy on the palate, with low tannins and a perfect balance between sweetness and acidity.

  • SOFTNESS

The character of slightly sweet wines when this flavour gives suppleness without the sugar being noticed.

  • SPICY

A wide range of aromatic aromas, including little by little the full range of cooking and pastry-making spices that are sometimes found in various red and white wines that have reached a good gustatory maturity.

  • STALE

A characteristic smell that often forms in wines that have remained stored in vessels without protection. In general, they also lose other aromatic characters of the wine.

  • STALK/STEM (TASTE OF)

Not very nice taste, with an acerbic and more of less leafy character, caused by prolonged maceration and vinification of shredded stalks.

  • STRAIGHTFORWARD

Used to describe a wine with honest, precise and unambiguous aromatic and gustatory sensations.

  • STRAWBERRY

The aromatic note of wild strawberries is common in primeur red wines. The note of cooked or candied strawberry is often combined with the dried fig character in sweet red wines and other aged dry red wines.

  • SUPPLE

A gustatory character related to a certain withdrawal of tannins and acidity, allowing the wine's natural sweetness to shine through.

  • SWEET

White and rosé wines that have a substantial balance of sugars, resulting in a sweet gustatory effect are described as sweet.

  • SWEET PEPPER

An aromatic nuance mainly noticeable by mouth, specific to red grape varieties rich in tannins and whose young fruitiness is not very predominant.

  • SWEETNESS

A neologism accepted in tasting to express the wine's sugary sensation level, which can be qualified in increasing order as fruity, soft, smooth, sweet, medium-sweet and very sweet.

T

  • TANNIN

A substance extracted from the skins of grapes, which gives red wines their character.

  • TART 

Character giving a bit of bite from acidity significantly aggravated by the presence of unripe tannins.

  • TEARS

See "legs"

  • THICK

A character of red wines where sweetness is excessive combined with the tannins, in a context lacking finesse and harmony.

  • THIN

Used to describe wines that seriously lack body (or sweetness) and structure.

  • THYM

An aromatic note found fairly often in wines from Provence and Haute-Provence.

  • TILE-RED

The appearance of a developed red wine whose colour reminds you of the old tile-red.

  • TOBACCO

Green or unburnt tobacco fragrances, similar to the havana nuance of perfumiers, is sometimes found in very fine and high-class red wines.

  • TRUFFLE

A very high class aromatic nuance found in high-quality aged red wines. The "white truffle" variety is found in some vintages of aged or very sweet white wines.

U

  • UNCTUOUS

A physical character of wine that has a high viscosity due its sweetness in the overall impression, where tannins and acidity do not attract attention.

  • VANILLA

An aromatic base element that is found in the bouquet of many red and white wines. It comes naturally from the woody parts of the grape or the oak wood of the barrels.

  • VEGETAL

Used to describe aromas evoking vegetation such as tannins which add a certain amount of astringency due to a lack of ripeness or strong extraction.

  • VELVETY

Used to describe a wine that makes you think of velvet when it touches your mouth.

  • VENISON

See Game (smell).

  • VINOUS

Used to describe a wine that is clearly rich in alcohol. The term 'alcoholic' is also used.

W

  • WARM

This term expresses the warm sensation experienced in the mouth with a certain alcoholic richness. 

  • WAX

The smell of wax occurs often in certain Chardonnay grands crus, in Grave blancs and some sweet wines from the Loire Valley.

  • WEAK

This qualification on one hand means a certain lack of alcohol and, on the other hand, insufficient constitution which indicates a wine that is fragile and difficult to store.

  • WELL-STRUCTURED

 Used to describe red wines that have a high content of fairly firm tannins, balanced with sweetness and acidity.

  • WILD ANIMAL

An animal smell that marks the bouquet of red wines aged to certain degrees. The lightest level is only the smell of natural fur. The strongest level is the smell of wildfowl, or fox on aged Pinot Noirs. Some smells are more varied hints of venison, whereas others develop a foul-smelling character called "gut of a warm hare".

  • WILD BLACKBERRIES

An aromatic character found comparable to beautifully ripe red wines that have a rich and varied fruitiness.

  • WOODY

 An aroma belonging to the balsamic smells group, which is present in wines matured in new barrels.

Y

  • YOUNG

Any wine that has kept a significant amount of its fruity aromas and fresh flavours after vinification is considered as young.