If wine is made from just grapes, why can some people can taste different fruits such as cherry, pear, or passion fruit? There are also flavor descriptions like butter, vanilla, clove, and even bacon used in many wine tasting notes. So, where do these flavors come from?
Let’s break down where wine flavors come from, the most common flavors to know, and a few tips on how to identify them yourself.
Where Do Flavors in Wine Come From?
If you ever have a chance to taste a fresh Chardonnay grape, you’ll see how wildly different it is from Chardonnay wine. A Chardonnay grape tastes more like a white table grape then the apple, lemon, and butter flavors we associate with Chardonnay wine.
Why Do Wine Grapes Taste Different From Wine? This is because all the aroma compounds —stereoisomers as scientists call them— are released by during fermentation. When you smell wine, the alcohol volatilizes (evaporates into the air) and carries these lighter-than-air aroma compounds into your nose. Each wine can contain hundreds of different aroma compounds and each compound can affect the flavor of a wine. This is why some Chardonnays taste different from others. Also, our brains can think of multiple responses to one stereoisomer (crazy, right!?). For example, the lychee fruit flavor in Gewürztraminer can also smell like roses.