Wine Aroma Wheel: 5 Wine Tasting Secrets They Reveal

The best-known wine aroma wheel above was developed by Dr. Ann Noble, while she was a professor with the renowned oenology program at the University of California at Davis. It categorized aromas broadly, splintering off into more specific sub-aromas. It was ground-breaking in that it took the obscure and confusing adjectives often used to describe wine and categorized them coherently.

Here are the top 5 wine tasting secrets that Dr. Noble’s aroma wheel, and the other wheels below can tell us:

1. Describing wine doesn’t have to be vague and off-putting. Using concrete, everyday adjectives from categories of fruit, flowers and so on, help us understand what we’re tasting.

2. Some generalizations about aromas help us distinguish between broad categories of wine. For example, robust red wines often have aromas of dark berries and fruit, while delicate white wines have aromas of tropical and light-coloured tree fruit.

3. Recognizing off or bad odours is just as important as knowing the good ones: it gives us confidence to send back a bad bottle in a restaurant knowing that the fault is not our palate or lack of sophistication.

4. Being able to describe the wines we like more concretely allows us to discover other wines we’ll enjoy, especially when you can share that with a sommelier or a liquor store staffer who can then better help you find those wines.

5. The dazzling diversity of wine aromas makes it fascinating: something for us to enjoy and explore rather than something to intimidate us.

The aroma wheel has certainly helped me not just with describing wine, but also in leading wine tastings per this video.

Here’s a simplified version of the tasting wheel above …

This aroma wheel created by Gallo wines helps to understand how different types of wines fit broad categories of aromas …

Various wine councils and regions are starting to put together aroma wheels that focus on a specific varietl or wine styles, such as this aroma wheel for German riesling …

This aroma wheel is for the robust red wine zinfandel from California …

Here’s a wine wheel that focuses on mouth-feel rather than aromas …

Finally, here’s a more detailed wine aroma wheel …

These aroma wheels are posted with permission of their creators.

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