Updated: Mar 12
Last week while having dinner with a friend she asks me: how do winemakers blend peaches into their wine? Well, they don’t. Here’s the science behind it.
It’s all about chemistry. These aromas molecules are tiny clusters of carbon atoms generated during grape ripening, alcoholic fermentation, and wine aging. We can split aromas into 3 types:
Primary Aromas: these aromas come from the grape itself. In unfermented grapes, most aroma molecules are bound up with sugar, so you cannot smell them. But, once fermentation turns sugar into alcohol, those volatile flavor compounds are set free and can be detected by our sense of smell.
Esters: come from acids. Are responsible for primary fruit flavors like apple and raspberry.
Terpenes: they are the reason you smell like rose petals, citrus, eucalyptus in your wine.
Pyrazine: is an aromatic organic compound that has vegetable-like smells. It’s also one of the fundamental aroma compounds in chocolate and coffee.
Sulfur compounds: the secret to minerality in wine. Chalk, wet stones
Secondary Aromas: are created by post-fermentation winemaking.
Acetoin and Diacetyl: is a byproduct of malolactic fermentation where bacteria transforms sharp malic acid in wine into much softer lactic acid. Malolactic fermentation causes these sweet butter or cream smells (found in both red and white wines).
Tertiary Aromas: these aromas have their origin in the ageing processes. Wine aging in tanks, barrels, or bottles causes its own bouquets.
Vanillin: this is the chief flavor of vanilla beans. In wine, it derives from fermenting or aging in oak barrels.
Eugenol smells like cloves or allspice.
The famous petrol or kerosene smell in mature Riesling is known as TDN and relates to sun-exposure in the grape skins.
After reading a few of the often-unpronounceable chemical names of wine aroma molecules, is better you call them whatever you like! At Malbec Bay all our boxes came whit an Aroma Wheel so you can expand your wine vocabulary!