Wine Cards Intermediate includes information on structure and style (sweetness, acidity, tannin, etc.) as well as important aromas and flavors of 30 grape varieties.
Wine Card Anatomy
The sidebar lets you quickly see a grape variety’s name along with aroma and flavor characteristics of wine produced from that grape.
2 Typical Wine Structure & Style
A multitude of styles can be produced from a single grape variety, largely dependent on the traits of the grape, climate, vineyard practices, and stylistic decisions made during winemaking.
Sweetness: Most wines are dry, or absent of sugar, since virtually all sugar is consumed by yeast during a wine’s fermentation. “Dry” in this context simply means not sweet.
Acidity: Essential to the aging of wine, acidity acts as a preservative, impacting its freshness. It also influences a wine’s potential to be paired with food.
Tannin: Astringent, sometimes bitter compounds found in grape skins and seeds. Tannins cause a drying sensation on your gums as they mingle with your saliva.
Body: Full-bodied wines will feel heavier, and sometimes more viscous, than light-bodied wines. Alcohol in wine contributes to its body, with higher alcohol wines having a heavier body.
3 Important Aromas & Flavors
A wine’s aromas and flavors are dynamic, and many grape varieties have distinct native characteristics. A wine’s character ranges from simple and generic (”red fruit”) to complex and distinct (”cooked red cherry; licorice; slightly herbal”). When tasting a wine, try to identify two to three characteristics if you can.
Wine Aromas & Flavors
What you see here is a fraction of the characteristics possible in wine. Identifying just a handful of them takes a lot of practice, but that just means you’ll have to drink more wine!
The characteristics of wine are often put into three categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary, based on how each type is derived.
Primary characteristics are aromas and flavors native to each grape variety. Some well known primary characteristics are the red fruit aromas and flavors of Pinot Noir and the grassy aromas of Sauvignon Blanc.
These characteristics are drawn from a wine’s initial fermentation and are greatly influenced by climate and vineyard practices.
Floral (e.g., citrus flowers, elderflower, geranium, honeysuckle, rose, violet)
Citrus Fruit (e.g., grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange) [i.e., peel, pith, zest, etc.]
Green Fruit (e.g., apple, gooseberry, grape, pear)
Stone Fruit (e.g., apricot, peach) [i.e., yellow, white]
Tropical Fruit (e.g., banana, lychee, melon, pineapple)
Red Fruit (e.g., cranberry, raspberry, red cherry, red plum, strawberry)
Black Fruit (e.g., black cherry, black plum, blackberry, blackcurrant, blueberry)
Vegetal (e.g., bell pepper, chili pepper, fennel, leaves)
Herbal (e.g., eucalyptus, grass, lemongrass, mint)
Spices (e.g., black / white Pepper, cinnamon)
Mineral (e.g., graphite, gravel, saline, stones)
Secondary characteristics are derived from winemaking processes like malolactic fermentation and oak aging.
Butter and cream characteristics, for example, are found in wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation, a second fermentation.
Oak aging is important to many wines and produces a wide range of aromas and flavors, including spices (like cinnamon and vanilla), chocolate (oh yes), and cedar.
Butter / Cream
Oak (e.g., baking spices, caramel, cedar, char, chocolate, clove, coconut, coffee, oak spice, smoke, vanilla)
Tertiary characteristics are derived from bottle aging.
As wine ages, its fruit characteristics wane, sometimes replaced gradually by tertiary characteristics. A wine’s potential to produce these complex and often desirable traits is just one factor that is used to determine both its artistic and commercial value. However, the majority of wine is not suitable for aging and is best enjoyed in its youth (within 1 to 2 years), when acidity and fruit characteristics are still vibrant.
Earth (barnyard, dusty, mushroom)
Meat / Game