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Aroma or bouquet?

Generally, when we refer to a wine`s aroma we allude to its primary fruit characters, including its herbal and floral notes. When we refer to a wine`s bouquet, it tends to indicate a wider scope of characteristics brought about by the winemaking and aging process, during which sugars, acids, alcohols and phenolic compounds interact with at least one of three influencing components: yeast, oxygen and oak (often all three). Phenolic compounds, including anthocyanins and tannins from grape skins, are especially important in the aging process for red wine. Moreover, they provide valuable colour and texture. As the wine ages, the colour and fruit fades in minute gradations, the tannins slowly soften, molecules gradually combine, and the wine gets smoother, growing more and more harmonious with every year. Of course, not all wines have what it takes to reach old age. Most are `designed` for early and medium-length drinking. White wines darken with age, with little or no tannins, but those which are age-worthy have good acidity to assist through the years. Eventually, of course, all wines simply fade away, eventually turning into vinegar. Wine lovers enjoy the journey, from primary and secondary aromas to what we call tertiary aromas, with age. It`s why people have cellars and buy fine wine by the case, to witness wine`s unravelling over time. A bottle this year, another the next, experiencing first-hand how the wine evolves.   So, what are these intricate, precious aromas we wait so longingly to uncork? For some, in red wines, it`s a beguiling autumnal-leafy smell, an earthiness sometimes referred to as `forest floor` (in reds) or `orchard` (in whites). In others, reds can evoke aromas of truffles, and in whites, honey. Yet other reds can become meaty and even gamey with age. Texturally, aged bottles are oft described as velvety or silky, even sexy. All worth-the-wait, I`d say. In the next column we will cover still more characteristics in wine, including those secondary characters derived from the winemaking process itself.  Cheers everyone!

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