Tag Archives: wine aroma wheel

Today’s Wine Word: Wine Aroma Wheel


Doesn’t it just drive you crazy when you smell something in the wine, and you know that you know what it is, but you can’t come up with the word? Wine Aroma Wheel to the rescue!

This is one of my all-time favorite tools. I actually had this wheel blown up into poster size to teach wine-tasting classes. 

The purpose of the wheel is to give us common language to describe wine. Rather than saying something esoteric like “This wine reminds me of a warm afternoon on the Champs Elysées.” – what the heck does that mean? – the terms are things we can all relate to. Like strawberries or licorice for instance. 

There’s a guide on the aroma wheel website that give you detailed instructions of how to use it. But, the big picture, as I see it, is that the wheel asks you questions that lead you to be specific in your in your description. In the center of the wheel you see the most general description, like “fruity” or “floral”. Say you think the wine smells fruity. As you work your way out, the wheel says “Okay – if the wine is fruity is it like citrus fruit? Or berries? Or dried fruit? What do you think?” If you select berries it goes on to ask if the wine is more like strawberries or blackberries. If you think it’s citrusy is it more like lemon or orange?  Continue reading


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How To Taste: Wine Aroma Wheel

Onward with the tasting tips: 

You know that frustrating moment when you smell something and you KNOW what it is, but you can’t quite come up with the name? There’s a really helpful tool for that called the Wine Aroma Wheel. It was developed at University of California at Davis, one of the best wine schools in the world, to help us use common language to describe wine. 

Instead of saying something esoteric, like “The wine reminds me of a warm day on the ChampsÉlysées…” you describe something that others can relate to. Everyone know what raspberry smells/tastes like. Everybody knows licorice…

The center of the wheel has the broadest descriptors and becomes more specific as you work your way out. For instance, if you have a generally fruity impression, as you work your way outward, it asks questions: “Does is remind you of citrus fruit? Or berries? Maybe a little of each?” And then becomes more specific, yet: “You say citrus fruit. Is it more like grapefruit or orange?” Continue reading

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