Aroma and Flavour Characteristics of The most Popular Wine Grape Varieties.


There are thousands of grape varieties that belong to a number of genus that botanists classified, starting with Carl Linee, a Swedish scientist.

According to R. Galet, vine in the kingdom of plants, is one of the 14 genera (in Latin vitis) that are sub-divided into European and Middle Eastern (vitis vinifera); American and Asian species.

The section of muscadiniae has two families (vitis munsoniana, and vitis rotundifolia), both of which are indigenous to the eastern shores of North America and happen to be phylloxera resistant, and winter hardy, but yield extremely fruity wines that most drinkers reject.

R. Galet classified the genus vitis and specialized in identification of varieties according to the shapes of their leaves and other characteristics. He also established that vitis vinifera grape varieties yield the best tasting and refined wines.

American species, especially vitis labrusca contain excessive amounts of mehtly anthrinilate that imparts an alien aroma (some call it “foxy”), and which no wine enthusiast likes.

Vitis labrusca grapes yield acceptable grape juice and jelly.

Asian grape species of the vitis amurensis, vitis thunbergii, and vitis coignetiae are cold resistant, but fail to yield refined wines.

The grape varieties that belong to the genus vitis vinifera originating in the Caucasus (either in Georgia or Armenia), yield the best fruit, aromatically and texturally.

They are planted all over the world, and many hybridisers cross two or more to create new species with ripening and/or flavour characteristic suitable to climates in different regions.

For white wines, growers prefer gewürztraminer, sauvignon blanc, viognier, chardonnay, and riesling, and for reds cabernet sauvignon, merlot, carmenere, pinot noir, syrah ad many others.

These grapes, when planted on appropriate soil types, (merlot likes clay mixed with limestone, cabernet sauvignon poor, gravely, well-drained soils, chardonnay limestone (offer aromas and flavours described below. It should be noted that climatic conditions prevailing in a vineyard change aromas, and textures somewhat.

Aromas: rose, lychee, tropical fruits, clove, pepper
Flavours: fruit salad, tropical fruits

Sauvignon blanc
Aromas: gooseberries, kiwi, herbs, freshly mowed grass, asparagus
Flavours: citrus, herbs, grapefruit, guava

Aromas: apricots, peaches, jasmine, white flowers
Flavours: citrus, apricot, peach

Aromas: apples, pears, toast, butter, minerals, citrus
Flavours: cream, custard, tropical fruit (Australian chardonnays), apples, pears, citrus (Northern hemisphere or cool climate regions)

Cabernet sauvignon
Aromas: roasted coffee beans, cigar box, mint, cassis, leather, pencil shavings, earth
Flavours: black currant, chocolate, minerals

Pinot noir
Aromas: red currant, cherry, raspberry, plum, violet, tea, forest floor, barnyard.
Flavours: red and black berries, silky, “juicy”

Aromas brambleberries, tar, leather, cracked peppercorns, smoked sausages or meat
Flavours: chocolate, roasted coffee beans, back peppercorns, dark berries

Aromas; plums, chocolates, spices, floral
Favours: cherries, plums, currants

Cabernet franc
Aromas: herbal. Vegetal
Flavours: spices, red ripe berries

Aromas: cherries, plums, chocolate, spices, tobacco.
Flavours: earth, spices, red berries

Vineyards located close to eucalyptus groves in Australia and Chile yield wines that exude aromas of exotic fruits and possess an oily, viscous texture. These aromas are appreciated in minute doses.

Aromas of sandalwood and spearmint in Rioja’s (Spain) aged tempranillo wines appeal to many aficionados.

Cat pee and litter box aka gooseberry aromas dominate in New Zealand sauvignon blanc wines, along with papaya, mango, and passion fruit. On the other hand Loire Valley’s sauvignon blanc hint of wet stones and grapefruit skin smells.

California sauvignon blanc exude wet hay, cut grass or peapod aromas.

Note: In red wines, barrel aging changes pending on the provenance of wood, size of barrel, and toast level of the barrel the taste and mouth feel.

Soaking of fruit before pressing, and fermentation temperatures affect both flavour and texture.

Storage conditions also change flavours.