Wine Aromas: Fruity, Floral, Vegetal, Spicy, Mineral

Discover the list of wine aromas: floral, fruity, herbaceous, mineral, spicy, balsamic and ethereal aromas. The aromas and scents of white wine and red wine. The distinction between primary, secondary and tertiary aromas.

Discover also the article dedicated to the aromatic, semi-aromatic and neutral grape varieties, the primary, secondary and tertiary aromas and the odorous molecules given to the wine by the aging in wood. To recognize the aromas of wine, also discover the article dedicated to the olfactory examination of wine.

Perhaps you might also be interested in the article dedicated to the best Italian red wines.



The perfumes or aromas of wine depend on over 220 odorous (volatile) molecules present in the wine in varying concentrations. They create complex interactions between them and define the set of olfactory sensations of a wine: the bouquet.

The odorous molecules responsible for wine scents have perception thresholds that differ greatly for humans. In addition to the subjective component, molecules present in minimal concentrations can affect the scent of wine more than others present in greater quantities.

The most important volatile compounds that give aromas and fragrances to wine belong to the family of esters and terpenes, which are mainly responsible for fruity aromas. However, other compounds also contribute such as alcohols, acids, acetals, lactones, aldehydes, phenols, ketones, nitrogen compounds, oxygenates, sulfurates etc.

The presence and perception of the odorous molecules that create the perfume and aromas of wine depend on various factors.

The aromas of the wine depend on the grape variety from which the wine is produced, the soil and climatic conditions of the vineyard (terroir), the vinification techniques adopted and the type of refinement (duration and material used).

Other factors that influence wine aromas are the state of conservation, the serving temperature, the type of glass used and the individual olfactory perception.

Being able to recognize the aromas of wine is not a simple practice. Curiosity, study, exercise and tasting practice are needed to be able to identify and memorize a large archive of wine aromas and aromas and above all to understand their oenological significance.

The taster must be able to perceive, isolate and recognize the aromas of wine that are communicated with an effective, albeit subjective and approximate, conventional lexicon.

To learn more, read the article dedicated to the olfactory examination of wine.

Aromas primary, secondary e terziaria

A generic and intuitive classification of wine aromas differentiates them into primary (varietal aromas related to the vine), secondary aromas (aromas derived from fermentation processes) and tertiary aromas (aromas that the wine acquires with refinement and maturation).

Secondary aromas and tertiary aromas are particularly important because most existing grape varieties do not feature obvious primary aromas. These vines with less recognizable aromas are called neutral vines.

On the contrary, among the varieties of vines with recognizable aromas there are: Gewürztraminer, Moscato, Malvasie and Brachetto (aromatic vines) or moderately recognizable, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Muller Thurgau (semi-aromatic vines).

This widespread classification between primary, secondary and tertiary aromas of wine is however to be considered a communicative simplification, widespread among sommeliers, but of controversial oenological accuracy.

To learn more, read the article dedicated to primary, secondary and tertiary aromas and aromatic, semi-aromatic and neutral grape varieties.


Wine aromas are analyzed using descriptors belonging to olfactory macro-families. Discover the main olfactory families of wine in which the aromas of wine are classified with examples and chemical-oenological significance. You will find countless examples of wine scents and also the list of wine scents.


What are the floral aromas of wine? The floral aromas of the wine can be found in almost all the wines. These wine aromas derive both from compounds present on the skin of the berries (terpenes) and from fermentation processes, they are therefore attributable to both primary and secondary aromas.

The odorous molecules that give floral aromas to wine are mainly esters and terpenes. They are present in highly variable concentrations, on which the perception and recognition of one floral aroma over another depends.

Interesting, from the point of view of communicative effectiveness, is the territorial correlation between the scents of flowers and the territory in which the wines are born. For example, you can associate the scent of orange blossom for Sicilian wines or the alpine flora for South Tyrolean wines.

In young white wines the perception of aromas of fresh white flowers such as jasmine, hawthorn, orange blossom and acacia is common.

The aromas of yellow flowers in wine are typical of white wines with a greater evolution, with an aging carried out in wood or in amphora. These include broom, dandelion, sunflower and mimosa.

In the case of young red wines it will be possible to identify aromas of fresh red flowers such as violet, violet, red rose and iris. The more evolved red wines with long refinements will, on the other hand, recall floral nuances of withered and dried flowers.

In the case of rosé wines it will be possible to perceive both the aromas and floral aromas of white wine and those of red wine, which will vary according to the greater or lesser structure and concentration of the rosé wine.

Examples of Floral Wines

Among the aromas and floral aromas of the wine we can mention the rose (geraniol) in the Gewürztraminer, the violet (linalool and α-terpineol) in the Sangiovese, the acacia (linalool and geraniol) in the Malvasia, the orange blossom (linalool and limonene) ) in Moscato or withered flowers in Nebbiolo (geranic acid, citronellol).

Descriptors of floral aromas of wine:

Rose, Violet, Iris, Acacia, Lime, Hawthorn, Broom, Jasmine, Lily, Orange blossom, Orange blossom, Dried flower potpourri, Geranium, Orange blossom, Alpine flora, Mimosa, Dandelion, Lavender, Peony, Wildflowers, Iris, Magnolia, Wisteria.


What are the fruity aromas of wine? The fruity aromas and aromas of the wine are mainly primary (varietal) but also linked to fermentation processes (secondary).

The fruity aromas of the fresher white wines are reminiscent of white pulp fruit and citrus fruits, up to tropical, yellow and canned fruit in wines from warmer areas or which have had aging in wood.

The fruity aromas of evolved white wines range from candied and dehydrated fruit, cooked fruit, in syrup or in jam.

For the fruity aromas in younger red wines you can range from dark or red berries and cherries. In more advanced red wines, the fruity aromas can turn instead towards fruit in jam, fruit in alcohol, dehydrated fruit.

Also in this case for rosé wines it will be possible to have both sensations that will vary according to the type of rosé wine.

Examples of Fruity Wines

Among some perfumes and fruity aromas of wine we can mention lychees (rose oxide) in Gewürztraminer, white melon in Sémillon, banana (isoamyl acetate) and pineapple (ethyl hexanoate) in Chardonnay, or the zest of Dried orange (nerolidol and citronellol) in Sangiovese.

But also apricot (pentyl butyrate) from Viognier and wild strawberry (furaneol) in Aglianico, Williams pear (ethyl acetate) in Prosecco or the penetrating aromas of red fruits in Montepulciano (β-damascenone) or Ribes In Pinot Noir (ethyl antralinate).

Descriptors of the fruity aromas of wine:

Citrus fruits: Bergamot, Cedar, Lime, Lemon, Mandarin, Grapefruit. Cherry, Sour Cherry, Cherry in Spirit, Jams, Dates, Fig, Strawberry, Apples, Pears, Plums, Berries, Strawberry, Raspberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Red and Black Currant, Exotic Fruit, Pineapple, Banana, Lychee, Mango, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Cooked Fruit, Caramelized Fruit, Candied Fruit, Canned Fruit, Dried Fruit, Dried Fruit, Almond, Hazelnut, Walnut, Melon, Medlar, Coconut, Peach, Plum, Gooseberry, Sultana.


What are the vegetal aromas of wine? Herbaceous aromas and aromas are linked to the grape varieties (primary aromas) but may also have an origin in the fermentation processes (secondary aromas). Many grape varieties defined as semi-aromatic can be characterized by these aromas.

The odorous molecules that give the vegetal scent of wine are various: these include pyrazines, terpenes, mercaptans (thiols).

Examples of wines with herbaceous and vegetable aromas

Among the herbaceous and vegetable aromas and aromas of the wine we can find the aromas of Sauvignon Blanc, reminiscent of boxwood or tomato leaf (thiols), or those of Cabernet Sauvignon with its notes of green pepper (pyrazine).

These notes are particularly pronounced when it is grown in cool areas or when the grapes have not reached perfect ripeness.

In wine produced with Merlot grapes it is possible to recognize aromas and aromas of undergrowth (piperitone), in Barolo and Barbera it is possible to identify suggestions of truffles (geosdine), while in Fiano notes of freshly cut grass.

If the vegetable scent in wine is very evident, however, it is generally considered a defect due to early harvests or errors in the fermentation phase.

Descriptors of herbaceous and vegetable aromas of wine:

Seaweed, Boxwood, Cut Grass, Fern, Hay, Tomato Leaf, Dried Leaves, Walnut Hull, Undergrowth, Truffle, Green Pepper, Mushroom, Cooked Vegetables.


What are the mineral aromas of wine? The perfumes and mineral aromas of wine, also called empyheumatic by the French, are a very large and heterogeneous family of perfumes with completely different origins. The aromas and mineral aromas develop during the fermentation and evolution of the wine, and are therefore considered both secondary and tertiary aromas.

The term mineral is a communicative convention of Anglo-Saxon origin (minerality). In reality, oenological studies confirm that there is no connection between these hints and the actual presence of minerals in wine.

It is an erroneous but suggestive belief to think that the mineral aroma of wine directly depends on the composition of the soil. The causes of wine’s mineral aromas and aromas are actually very complex, multifactorial and heterogeneous and vary according to the type of mineral sensation of the wine.

Among the main causes linked to the perception of mineral aromas in wine we find: wines with high total acidity and low pH, evolved wines with the presence of sulfur compounds derived from slight reductions, evolved wines that develop aromatic nuances thanks to aging (flint, brackish, hydrocarbons).

Examples of wines with mineral aromas

Among some of the mineral aromas of the wines we can mention the famous hydrocarbon notes of Riesling Renano and Muller-Thurgau with years of refinement. The hints of salt in Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva, the flint in white wines from Etna, Timorasso, Nascetta and Chardonnay from Chablis. Brackish suggestions can be found in some Greco di Tufo of greater evolution, and chalky notes in Champagne.
The aromas of hydrocarbons in wine (hints that recall hydrocarbons, kerosene, diesel) derive from the formation of an aromatic molecule called trimethyl-dihydronaphthalene. This olfactory note is typical of Rieslings with long refinements, it derives from the slow degradation of particular pigments present on the skin of the berries (carotenoids), but it is also found in advanced wines obtained from Timorasso, Vernaccia, Fiano, Carricante, Verdicchio, Müller-Thurgau and Many other vines in the world.

It is shown that higher exposure, water stress, low yields and high total acidity can indirectly affect the concentration of TDN in wine.

Fragrance molecules such as pyrazines (herbaceous), geosdin (humus, mushrooms), ethylphenol (smoky notes) also contribute to the wine’s mineral aromas and aromas.

Descriptors of mineral aromas of wine:

Slate, Petrol, Gravel, Graphite, Hydrocarbons, Ink, Petroleum, Flint, Gunpowder, Brackish, Salt, Silica, Tar, Kerosene, Gypsum, Ferrous notes.


What are the spicy aromas of wine? The spicy and toasted aromas of wine are generally considered tertiary aromas, as they develop mainly during the aging of the wine in wooden containers.

In fact, wood releases many of the odorous molecules that enrich the aromatic spectrum of wine.

Depending on the size of the containers (barriques, tonneaux or barrels), the maturity of the wood, the type of toasting and their use (first, second, third step), the spicy aromatic notes that are transferred to the wine change.
Among the most common spicy aromas of wine we can find sweet spices such as vanilla (vanillin), cinnamon (cinnamic aldehyde), cloves (eugenol), licorice, coriander (linalool) and almond (furfural).

But also the toasted aromas of wine and roasting such as coffee, cocoa, tobacco, nutmeg (thiols and pyrazines). These spicy aromas of the wine depend directly on the type of barrel used during the aging phase.

Interesting how the hint of goudron (tar) in red wines of great evolution such as Bordeaux, Barolo and Brunello can be found among the toasted aromas of the wine. The scent of goudron (volatile phenols) is considered an aroma that the wine generally acquires during long aging in wood with strong toasting.

There are also other notes of spices that can develop from heterogeneous chemical reactions related to the evolution of wine such as caramel (maltol) and curry (sotolone), found in some wines aged in first passage barriques. Or mustard and wasabi (allyl isothiocyanate) in some passitti, botrytised wines and advanced white wines.

To learn more, read the article dedicated to the odorous molecules given to wine by aging in wood.

Examples of wines with spicy aromas

There are some exceptions among the spicy aromas of wine that are part of the aromatic outfit of the vines (primary aromas). Among these the notes of black pepper given by the rotundone molecules, present in many grape varieties and evidently found in grape varieties such as Syrah, Grüner Veltliner and native grape varieties present in Italy such as Schioppettino and Vespolina.

Among the spicy aromas linked to the grape there is also saffron (β-isophorone) present in the Ribolla Gialla, in the Vernaccia, in the Barbera in the Refosco dal Penducolo Rosso. But also ginger and candied citrus fruits (Nerolo), typical of Riesling, Greco, Moscato and many others.

Descriptors of Spiced and Toasted Aromas of wine:

Spicy aromas

Anise, Star Anise, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves, Coriander, Curry, Juniper, Nutmeg, White Pepper, Black Pepper, Pink Pepper, Green Pepper, Vanilla, Mustard, Saffron, Ginger,

Toasted flavors:

Smoked, Cocoa, Coffee, Chocolate (milk, white, dark), Smoke, Goudron, Almond, Toasted hazelnut, Toasted bread, Tobacco


What are the balsamic aromas of wine? The aromas and aromas of aromatic herbs in wine can be varietal (primary aromas) but also linked to fermentation processes (secondary aromas) or evolutionary (tertiary aromas). The wines can acquire nuances that range from vegetal in continental climates to balsamic nuances in territories with a Mediterranean climate. This phenomenon depends on the different concentrations of odorous molecules in wine, and is easily found in varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet, but also in many others.

The balsamic and aromatic aromas of wine can range from marjoram, oregano, rosemary, thyme, (rotundone) basil (linalool, eugenol), fennel (estragolo), parsley (apiolo), balsamic, smell of resin, camphor and sandalwood (alpha -pinen, vitispiran and volatile acidity in low concentrations) or mint (menthol).

In Roman times it was common practice to aromatize wines with balsamic aromas, introducing various substances such as resin and aromatic herbs.

Examples of wines with balsamic aromas

These may include the balsamic aromas of eucalyptus and Nebbiolo resin (eucalyptol, β-myrcene), or the notes of alpine herbs from Sagrantino (α-terpineol), camphor and sandalwood in Sangiovese (vitispirano), juniper (pyrazine ) in Cabernet or mentholated (piperitone) in Merlot and in many Bordeaux blends.

Descriptors of Balsamic and Aromatic Herbs of wine

Dill, Laurel, Basil, Camphor, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Juniper, Incense, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Pine, Rosemary Resins, Sage, Sandalwood, Thyme


What are the ethereal perfumes of wine? The ethereal aromas and aromas are exclusively tertiary, therefore they derive from the refinement of the wine and are common among wines with very prolonged refinements such as the great Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino.

The ethereal aromas include sealing wax, enamel, medicines, and fruit in alcohol. These sensations are brought to mind because the compounds that determine them (acetaldehyde and ethyl alcohol) are used as solvents in the rubber, tanning and paper industries, but also in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.

The perfumes and ethereal aromas of wine derive from the formation of esters, acetals and ethers or from the formation of acetaldehyde, derived from a slow oxidation of ethanol.

If present in very low concentrations they can elegantly embellish the wine bouquet by binding to the esters and varietal terpenes of the wine. If present in greater concentration, they cover the varietal character of the wine resulting in homogenizing, unpleasant and pungent and are therefore considered a defect.

In particular in wines that are too ‘ripe’ or aged incorrectly, the loss of intensity of the fruity-floral varietal aromas can leave room for more pungent alcoholic notes (ethanol) and oxidative notes.

The presence of these aromas and aromas in young wines can represent an anomaly linked to errors in the fermentation phase.

Descriptors of ethereal aromas of wine

Wax, Sealing Wax, Ioid, Medicines, Plastic, Soap, Solvents, Enamel, English Candy, Cotton Candy, Fruit in alcohol.


There are many other aromas and aromas of wine, both varietal and derived from fermentation or evolutionary processes of the wine. For example, we can mention the vinous scent of the wine, typical of the must in the fermentation phase. The vinous scent recalls penetrating fruity-herbaceous aromas (higher alcohols), and is common in young wines, new wines and beaujoulais and wines from not perfectly ripe grapes.
The perfumes and aromas of the bread-making wine are very fascinating, recalling the brioches, the viennoiserie and the bread crust (diacetyl, lactones) typical of Champagne and of the Italian Classic Method wines. They are derived from the autolysis of yeasts but also from the development of ethers during the aging of the wine.
What does the aroma of butter in wine depend on? The aromas and aromas of almond, hazelnut and melted butter wine derive from aging in barrique (as for Californian Chardonnays), or be present in wines aged ‘sur lies’ (on lees), but also originate as precursors of Aroma.

Of great interest among the aromas of wine is the scent of honey in wine (cinnamic acid, β-damascenone), typical of sweet passito wines obtained from botrytised grapes, and also common in dry white wines that have undergone long refinements in the bottle.

Other Descriptors of Wine Aromas

Amaretto, Biscuit, Brioche, Butter, Peanut Butter, Caramel, China, Powder, Confetto, Bread Crust, Cheese, Yeast, Honey, Olives, Brioche, Pastry, Bread, Talc, Tamarind, Nougat


What are the odorous molecules that wine acquires thanks to aging in wood? The aromas released by the wood during the aging of the wine are innumerable and are the result of an extraction process.

These odorous molecules vary depending on various factors. These may affect the degree of use of wood (first, second or third passage), the type of wood used, the type of toasting (light, medium, strong), the size and aging time of the wine in the wooden container. .

To learn more, discover the article dedicated to the aging of wine in wood and the odorous molecules released by the wood.