Skip to content

Aroma, Colour & Flavour

The Wine Star

In the same way that a plate of food is made up of a number of different components that influence the taste of the dish, so too is a bottle of wine.

Hover over the icons to learn more
Tap the icons to learn more
The Wine Star

The Colour of Wine

Unless you are out to impress/wow the crowds or tasting wine professionally you will never have to worry too much about whether your glass of white is 'lemon yellow' in colour or closer to 'gold' or indeed if your red is 'garnet' or 'ruby'... However, the colour of the wine in your glass does tell you a number of interesting things about the wine you are about to drink, you just need to stop and take a look.

  • Water White
  • Yellow Green
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Gold
  • Amber
  • Purple
  • Ruby
  • Garnet
  • Brick Red
  • Tawny

Five things that the wine could be trying to tell you:

1) The colour and clarity can tell you if the wine is faulty. Wine should be clean and bright with no hazes but an older wine might have some sediment in the bottom of the glass which is nothing to worry about as it is predominantly made up of tannins that have fallen out of solution and pouring it back into the bottle and decanting it is an easy fix. Something that people understandably worry about if they see them in their wine are tartrates which looks suspiciously and alarmingly like little shards of glass. However they are entirley harmless and are just tartaric acid crystals, though filtration and cold stabilisation generally prevents their appearance, certainly in commercial wines.

2) A really golden wine with a hint of orange coupled with a smell of sherry might mean that the wine is oxidized and that it has spoiled due to exposure with the air so return it if possible. However if it is just a lovely gold with no sherry smell then it is likely to be a warm climate oaked wine with notes of spice on the nose and palate.

3) Both the depth and the colour of the wine can also give an indication as to its age; generally a wine whose colour falls on the right hand side of the chart is likely to be older - deeper golden and amber colours for whites and brick red or tawny colours for reds. Bright purple and garnet hues tend to denote younger red wines and because whites tend to be drunk earlier than reds the colour of a young white is generally water white through to gold and an older wine, deep gold to amber.

4) The colour also tells a story about the provenance of the wine because grapes grown in cooler, more marginal climates tend to produce wines with lighter colours because the grapes didn't get nice and fat and juicy from the hot sun ripening them so they tend to be paler and more delicate in colour which does of course go hand in hand with the grape variety...

5) ...because grape varieties tend to be grown where the climate naturally suits them so a grape that needs lots of sun to ripen it will be found in sunny climes and tend to be deep and dark and produce a full-bodied wine - think Shiraz or Zinfandel (found on the Blackberries & Spice branch of The Wine Flavour Tree) - whereas a grape that is light and delicate tends to be grown in cooler climates, such as Riesling. Some grapes wherever they are grown tend to be a certain depth of colour so Gamay, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese for example (all grapes that fall on the Soft & Juicy or Red Fruits & Roses branches) are always on the paler side. Another reason for this aside from climate is the grape variety itself. Pinot Noir is a relatively big, juicy berry with thin skins and low levels of phenols whereas Cabernet Sauvignon is a small, tight, deeply coloured berry so that after skin contact there is plenty of colour and tannin (phenols) in the juice which leads to a tighter, more structured and deeper coloured wine.

Flavour Chart of Secondary & Tertiary Flavours

Along with the 40 primary aromas and flavours that are already displayed on The Wine Flavour Tree there are an additional number of other aromas and flavours that you may detect in your wine which are largely secondary aromas (from the fermentation) or tertiary aromas (from maturation and ageing in bottle).

Secondary Aromas
Tertiary Aromas
YEAST
(fermentation)
OAK
(fermentation)
MLF
(malolactic fermentation)
MATURATION & BOTTLE AGEING
Toast & BreadNutmegButterHoney
NutsCloveCreamKerosene
PastryVanillaMilk/lacticMocha
BiscuitCinnamonButterscotchLeather & Tobacco
Brioche & CroissantCoconutPopcornCedar & Cigar Box
Secondary Aromas
YEAST
(fermentation)
OAK
(fermentation)
MLF
(malolactic fermentation)
Toast & BreadNutmegButter
NutsCloveCream
PastryVanillaMilk/lactic
BiscuitCinnamonButterscotch
Brioche & CroissantCoconutPopcorn
Tertiary Aromas
MATURATION & BOTTLE AGEING
HoneyKeroseneMocha
LeatherTobaccoCedar & Cigar Box
Scroll To Top