What it is.
The aroma wheel is a brilliant tool designed to visualize and help understand, as well as evaluate wine in a universal, descriptive language. It was conceived at the University of California at Davis, a leading institution in the fields of oenology and viticulture, by Ann C. Noble, Ph.D. in 1984, and has been adapted and diversified throughout its modest gastronomical history.
How it works.
The Aroma Wheel provides a visual graphic of the different categories and aroma components that one can encounter in wine. The terminology used is standardized for use by both professionals and amateur wine tasters. The wheel breaks down wine aromas into 12 basic categories, each further sub-divided into different aromas that can fall into those main categories. It is a map that plugs into our taste-buds, helping us navigate and understand the subtle degrees of variation in wine aromatics. It can be broken down in to 3 easy steps (see below)
Why use it.
Ever been out with that friend who “Can’t smell anything” when you just spent top dollar on your favourite corker? They try, or maybe not *sigh*, to appreciate the wine, but have no way of describing what they taste. Well, this is the perfect tool to associate your experience of aromas with descriptive terms. You don’t have to be a snobby wine aficionado to be in touch with your senses.
It looks pretty, but complicated.
It really couldn’t be simpler. There are 3 steps to nailing it, just like there are 3 tiers in the wheel:
- Red Tier: Pick one of the 12 categories
- Green Tier: Pick the sub categories that apply to what you taste
- Blue Tier: Pick the descriptors you associate with what you taste
All the categories and descriptors used can now be strung together in a sentence.
“This wine boasts flavours of…”
Example with a relatively simple and cheap Australian Shiraz:
- It is very fruity, a little spicy too.
- The fruitiness I definitely associate with berries
- More specifically, blackcurrants, raspberries, strawberries, and black pepper for the spice
“This Shiraz is fruity, boasting aromas of blackcurrants, raspberries, strawberries and a subtle note of black pepper”
Our minds are all different, and the wheel can be used and interpreted in various ways. I like to work in reverse, I first look at the third tier, and work my way in. This tool will enable you to be comfortable with the language of wine.