There are four categories to consider when evaluating the nose of a wine:
intensity (think of a vertical analysis, it judges the power of all the aromas perceived at the same exact time),
complexity (think horizontally— therange of different aromas you may concurrently smell),
quality (the synthesis of intensity, complexity, finesse and elegance),
It’s the description guidelines that have been especially helpful for me. There are ten description groups, and every aroma you could possibly perceive would theoretically fall into one or more of them.
Aromatic—this adjective would describe the bouquet of a wine made from aromatic grape varieties, ONLY (and here I’ve been throwing this around loosely for years).
Vinous—this refers to winery smells, fermentation aromas, generally found in younger red wines.
Floral—these essences can be numerous, and come from a variety of factors such as soils, grape varieties, and the age of a wine. You might note white and yellow flowers for fresher young wines, red flowers for deeper colored wines, and dried ones for those who’ve got some age on them.
Fruity—various fruits can be perceived, depending again on factors like soils, varieties, and age. A fresh white wine bouquet might give off green, white, or yellow fruit aromas, or maybe exotic, tropical, or citrus notes. A red might show darker berries, red or black fruits, and you may detect dried or ripe fruits in mature ones.
Grassy—green vegetal aromas that are often reminiscent of.. grass! This could also be bell peppers, tomato leaves, or dried hay aromas.
Mineral—Salt and mineral aromas, flint, gunpowder, or river stones. This is the category I’ve found most eye opening— Hande has poured some Italian wines that actually taste salty!
Fragrant—two meanings, it’s most commonly used to talk about fresh and lively wines in general, but it’s also a term for sparkling or still white wines that have had extended contact on their lees, giving off a bread-like, yeasty smell.
Frank—this one I’ve never used, but frankly, it makes sense. This would be a clean, well-defined scent that stands out from the other smells. Say that you have a wine that smells just like a green pepper, this would be written: grassy, frank (bell pepper).
Spicy—this category stretches from sweet to hot spices, and can be found in any type of wine, especially those aged in oak barrels.
Ethereal—this is another term that I hadn’t heard of before starting the class. It’s derived from the alcohols, acids and aldehydes, and gives off a medicinal, estery, sometimes soapy or waxy aroma. Think about inhaling Vick’s vapor rub, and you’ll get the idea.