Wines give off aromas that will determine our desire to try them but they will also give us many clues about the area from which they come, the grapes with which they are made, the fermentation processes they have lived through and the oak from the barrels in which they have rested. Also, it’s a great aspect always present in the wine barrels we choose for decoration. There are many aromas but not everyone will be able to describe them, since it will depend on our olfactory memories to locate those aromas and be able to decipher them. In this post we give you some clues to make it easier for you to discover what that particular wine smells like.
In the olfactory phase, after the visual phase, the aromas and their intensity are identified. Also, if a wine is not in its optimal organoleptic conditions, we can discover it through this phase, since we will not find pleasant aromas in it.
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The aromas present in wine are classified into three categories
- The primary aromas depend on the grape variety and the area in which those grapes have grown, the composition of the soil, the climate and even its form of cultivation. They are mainly floral aromas (roses, lavender …) and fruit (citrus, tropical and tree-like aromas of peach and apple typical of white wines, and in red wines of red berries or tree like cherry or plum) , although they can also provide vegetable aromas (vegetables, herbs or leaves such as tomato, hay, grass, thyme, eucalyptus …) and mineralised.
- Secondary aromas arise from alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. They come from yeasts and the conditions that promote fermentation. These aromas are made up of pastry, lactic or even pastry tones (yogurt, butter …)
- Tertiary aromas depend on aging in barrels and bottles, they are also called bouquet. They are acquired during the stay of the wine in the barrel and its subsequent rest in the bottle. They are balsamic, wooden, roasted or dried fruit aromas. Examples of tertiary aromas are smoky touches or aromas of tobacco or coffee, aromas of spices, nuts, wood and even leather. The type of barrel will also do a lot, since the French oak provides some aromas and the American oak others, but we will dedicate a single post to the difference between these two types of oak.
Do not forget that regardless of the complicated verbiage that we can sometimes find around wine, there is an easy world in which we can all enjoy any wine and even discover it according to our senses, sometimes it is quite subjective, since if we never you have smelled the dill you will never be able to smell it in a wine … that is why we must educate our sense of smell and for that there are wheels of aromas like those in the image that we can find.
Barrels, what do they bring to the wine?
Barrel aging is one of the fundamental steps in the production of quality wine. The barrel, made up of oak staves, and reinforced with galvanized iron or aluminum rings, provides the wine with clarification over time, causing the unstable compounds to settle.
On the other hand, oxygenation in very small doses, provided by the own perspiration of the barrel, allows the compounds that give color to the wine, tannins and anthocyanins, to be complexed correctly so that the color is lasting.
The tertiary aromas of the wine also come from the oak aging:
– French barrels: they provide the wine with balsamic and dried fruit aromas. Being the finest wood grain the amount of air supplied is very low, so aging in French oak must be prolonged.
– American barrels: the representative aroma of American oak is vanilla. The tannic contribution is less since the wood grain is thicker. This oak is recommended for short aging.
In addition to the origin we have to take into account the degree of toasting of the staves. As broad features of the roasting type, the less roasted staves give the wine classic wooden aromas, such as the nutty aroma and will have a greater tannic content. Medium roasting gives us softer aromas such as coconut and if we go to strong roasts, we will lose aromatic complexity in favor of smoked aromas and reducing the contribution of tannins.
Another aspect to take into account by the winemaker and which is engraved on the front cover of the barrel is the forest of origin of the oak staves. The region of central France, which groups the forests of Allier, Tronçais, Nevers and Bertrange, stands out within French oak. The best barrels in France come from these forests. The Tronçais area, which is part of the Allier forest, together with Bertrange, part of the Nevers forest is where the oaks of the Quercus petraea species
they develop the finest grain and where the coopers make the highest-end barrels. The Nevers forest, outside the Bertrange area, is characterized by Oak trees that give rise to coarser grain wood than the Allier forest.
The other forests in France where the Quercus petraea species occurs are those located in the northwest: Burgundy and Vosges.
The barrels from the French southwest: Limousin and Aquitaine, are made with oak staves of the Quercus robur species, with a coarser grain.
In the case of American oak, the oak species used by the cooperage is white oak (Quercus alba) and there is no bias between forests as in the French case. American white oak forests are primarily distributed between the states of Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, and Oregon.
Keep in mind that here at Wine Barrels you can rent or buy beautiful wine barrels for decoration and add a classic touch to your place.