The Origins of Wine Aroma, Part 1
A few weekends ago we held our first annual Valentine’s Winemaker Dinner at the Scottsdale Tasting room. It was a real treat for me to get the opportunity to meet some of our wine club members who have been with us from the beginning, and to once again see those whom I’d met here in Willcox. It’s such a pleasure to hear the stories that everyone brings to the table, from tales of the family’s pet tortoise to a couple first getting together following a wake… everyone’s life is different and interesting, and I’m grateful that wine and food can bring us together at the same table to share with one another.
Over a dessert of crème brulee, we popped open a few unreleased bottles of the sparkling Malvasia Bianca that we made this past harvest, and I spoke a bit about the wine—specifically how much I enjoy its peach and slightly bitter grapefruit aromas and flavors. One of my fellow diners exclaimed over the grapefruit bitterness, and asked if we’d actually included grapefruit in the fermentation. This is a pretty logical question, and I’ve been asked more than once some sort of variation on it.
While there are some wines that are made with an addition of some other fruit juice, most of the wines you encounter at your local liquor store, supermarket, or restaurant do not. And yet, they’re nearly all accompanied by a tasting note evoking a veritable fruit salad. They’re just grapes, you might think. How is it possible for this glorified grape juice to taste like all these wacky things?
In the laboratory, there have been over 1,000 different aromatic compounds isolated from wine and these all come from just a few sources: the grapes, the yeast, the malolactic bacteria, and the oak, if it was used. Stay tuned-- once a month, I'll break down one of these components, and talk about what it contriubtes to the aromas and flavors of wine. Hopefully by the end of this, you'll have a better understanding of what's going on to make a wine smell and taste like it does, and I'll have reminded myself of all the stuff that slipped out of my brain since school and all the bottles of wine Ive drunk since then. I hope this will be a fun journey for all of us.