The 13 Different Aroma Families in Wine

Why do wines smell and taste like other natually ocurring substances like fruits or spices? Because they are made up of the same chemical compounds. These come from several sources.

Primary aromas – come from the fruit, within the various grape varieties these aromas exist as non odorous elements that are transformed by fermentation. Each grape variety has its own aroma palette and can be identified by these aromas. Can smell of Fruit, Vegetables, Floral, Spice or Minerals.

Secondary aromas – produced from the fermentation process. come from the fermentation process and come from the esters produced and smell fruity of apple, banana or boiled sweets.

Other fermentation aromas include soap, sour dough or yeast. There are also faults such as volatile acidity that smells of nail varnish (ethyl acetate) and vinegar.

Can smell of Ethereal, chemical, vegeatable, fruit

Tertiary aromas – during maturation in cask or ageing in the bottle. (called the bouquet) come from ageing in wood (spice family – liquorice, cloves, coconut, vanilla)  come from the maturation (gradual exposure to oxygen) of the primary aromas. The aroma families in this category include burnt (empeuramatique – smokey, coffee), balsamic (caramel), chemical (pharmaceutical), animal (leather, musk, game). Other aromas include undergrowth, truffle or wax.From the oak cask, the immediate development of aromas of vanilla, cream, butter or spice and aromas from oxidation.  Aromas combine to form the complex bouquet. AGE

Can smell of balsamic, burnt, spice, diry, vegetable woody

We divide the different aromas we find in wine into 13 different families.



Black – blackcurrant, blackberry, plum, cherry

Red – raspberry, strawberry, red cherry, redcurrant

Citrus – lemon, lime ,grapefruit, orange

White/Yellow – peach, pear, apple, apricot, nectarine, muscat grapes, quince

Tropical – pineapple, mango, passion fruit, lychee

Dried Fruit and Nuts – apricot, marmalade, figs, prune, jam

Nuts – hazlenuts, almonds, walnuts


FLORAL FAMILY: violets (betianone molecule) rose, lilac, lily of the valley, iris, violet, hyacinth, ylang ylang, jasmin, lime blossom, orange blossom, acacia, magnolia, honeysuckle, geranium

SPICE (also tertiary aroma)


MINERAL FAMILY: flint, quartz, schist, limestone, graphite (pencil lead – mine de crayon)

ETHEREAL FAMILY: green apples, boiled sweets, pear drops, unripe bananas, strawberry bubblegum, candle wax, fermented dough, wheat, beer, cider, wine lees, yoghurt, butter

Toast, brioche, biscuit

–      vinegar, soap, nail varnish remover

VEGETAL FAMILY: herby, herbaceous, leafy, green pepper (IBMP unripe grapes particularly Cabernet Sauvignon), tea, fern, green beans, peas, cut grass, asparagus, box,broom, tomato leaf and blackcurrant bud (all from the thiols of Sauvignon)

– garlic, cabbage,

CHEMICAL FAMILY: alcohol, iodine, petrol, tar, pharmaceutical

– chlorine, sulphur, roten eggs, styrene, glue, rubber

BALSAMIC FAMILY: syrup, balm, cough mixture

ROASTED FAMILY: smokey, roasted, toast, coffee, chocolate, cocoa, grilled, hazlenuts, almonds, spice bread, tobacco, caramel


Vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove



aniseed*, fennel

peppermint*, mint*


mushroom, truffle



Aromatic Plants: rosemary, thyme, lavender, sage, bay, marjoram


Cream, butter

VEGETABLE FAMILY Tertiary aromas with age – undergrowth, truffle, forest mushrooms

WOODY FAMILY: oak, cedar, pine, white tobacco, pencil shavings, cigar box

–      unseasoned planks, damp cardboard (TCA damp cardboard), dusty old wood

ANIMAL FAMILY: game, venison, bacon, musky, bloody, cigar box, musk, civet

– damp dog, stable, sweat (phenol smell from Brettanomyces), cat’s pee (excessive thiol molecule), damp wool, goat’s cheese


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