Understanding Wine Flavors


Wine is a drink made from fermented grape juice or other fruits. It has a long history of production and consumption. There are many different types of wine, including white, red, and sparkling wines.

The main factors that influence wine style are grape variety/ies, natural and human influences in vineyard growing, winemaking, and maturation. The proportions of these components can vary greatly from wine to wine.


There are many different types of wine, from crisp whites to hearty reds. The flavor, aging potential and health benefits of wine can vary widely depending on grape variety, where the wines are grown and how they’re made.

Whether you’re an up-and-coming sommelier or just an occasional happy hour enthusiast, it’s helpful to understand the differences between different wine varietals. This way, you can order a glass of your favorite bottle with confidence.

A wine is considered a varietal if the specific grape listed on the label is capitalized and starts with an alphabetical letter (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, etc). There are also blends where multiple varieties of wines make up a single bottle. For example, a Bordeaux red blend typically contains Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.


Understanding wine flavors is a crucial step in becoming an expert wine drinker. Learning about the four primary wine descriptors will allow you to understand how different wines compare to one another and make more informed decisions when buying and drinking wines.

The flavors of wine are derived from aroma compounds released during, or in harmony with, the fermentation process. These aroma compounds are grouped into three categories: Fruit/Floral/Herbal, Spice, and Earth.

Fruit flavors are a common feature in red wines. They can range from tart cranberries in young Pinot Noir to red and black fruit flavors in matured Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Tertiary flavors develop with the wine’s aging process and include nuttiness, vanilla and coffee. These are often derived from the wine’s interaction with oxygen.


The term “style” describes the overall mouthfeel and texture of a wine, and it can vary depending on the grape variety, vineyard site, winemaking style, terroir and acidity levels. This is why the same wine can taste sharp and light, crisp or luscious and smooth.

Winemakers can also alter a wine’s structure by how long they allow the juice to macerate. Shorter maceration times result in lighter, brighter wines while longer times result in deeper hues and more intense flavors.

Lighter bodied red wines often have smooth tannins and ripe red fruit aromas while full-bodied ones reveal nutty, smoky and spicy nuances from oak, and a buttery, creamy texture. While whites run the gamut from citrus fruits to orchard fruits like pears and apples to tropical, floral and even herbal flavors.

Alcohol content

Wines, beers and distilled spirits all have different levels of alcohol content. While the exact amount varies between drinks, they are all regulated to contain a certain amount of ethanol. Alcohol content is typically disclosed on beverage labels in the form of alcohol by volume (ABV).

The ABV of wine reflects how much ethanol the grapes produced during fermentation. Ethanol is responsible for the intoxicating effect that wine has on the drinker, and also contributes to its body and texture.

The ABV of beers and wines is usually around 8%-15%, while distilled spirits generally have an ABV of 35-40%. Liqueurs, which are distilled beverages mixed with fruit or cream, usually have a lower ABV than spirits. This is because they take longer to metabolize, which results in a lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC).


Unlike beer, people don’t see wine as a “cheap” drink. They associate it with elegance and culture, so it’s not surprising that they’re willing to pay more for it.

Restaurant bottle prices are based on the wholesale price, but there are other costs that can affect pricing as well. For example, a restaurant may have higher operational or overhead expenses than another, so it needs to charge more for its wines to make the same profit.

Fortunately, the Internet makes it easy to compare wine prices online. Sites like jancisrob provide comprehensive data from wine merchants worldwide, with the lowest-priced options displayed first. This gives restaurants a flexible pricing tool that can adapt to changing conditions. The cheapest way to buy wine is to shop at stores that offer bulk discounts.

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