Learn Your Wine Notes

At some point of your wine journey, you have probably struggled with trying to identify the aromas and notes that you’re getting from your wine. This is because wine culture is still relatively new to America, and we are unfamiliar with the certain fruits and flavors that are more traditional to the old world wine countries (primarily in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Here, we help breakdown some of that jargon for you and teach you how to identify wine notes using language that you’re familiar with.

Wine Notes Simplified.

Most popular to European countries, gooseberries can range from yellow all the way to purple and become darker as they ripen. When you consume a raw gooseberry, it can taste sour and tart like a lemon. However, when these berries begin to mature, they take on a completely different taste profile, developing a subtle sweetness with mild acidity, like a zesty pineapple.

Black currant looks like a small, purple-black grape, but it’s actually quite different from a grape and takes on different flavors depending on its maturity. While this European berry is tart and more acidic when unripe, it’s flavor profile morphs into a raisin-like note when dehydrated.
Many of us are probably more familiar with this fungus when the word “fries” follows behind it. Although truffles are not the most appealing to look at, they can definitely enhance the flavors of sweet and savory dishes, much like garlic or shallots. However, when truffles are consumed alone, you get the true sense of their musky, sulphureous, and funky aromas from the androsterone hormone (found in male pigs) that they produce.
Sometimes, we hear wine “snobs” characterize the flavor profile of a wine as smokey. The compounds that these people are tasting are free volatile phenols, which is similar to what you may find in barbecued meat. Here were compare that smokey flavor to charred bacon, which we all know that’s the best way to consume it– crisp and slightly burnt.
Native to South India, cardamom is actually present in many dishes and beverages such as chickpea curry or a chai latte. However, you may also taste these flavors in your wine. If you’re picking up on these piney, cinnamon, and methanol-like notes in your wine, you could be tasting cardamom. You can find these oriental spice notes in your Zinfandels, Malbecs, Cab Sauvs and many other deep, bold reds.
If you’re from down South, you’re probably all too familiar with the honeysuckle flower. Yes, in your childhood, you may remember playing in the fields with friends, plucking honeysuckle and consuming the nectar from the flower. However, many of us did not share these same experiences, and for those who haven’t, honey-suckle simply tastes like putting a teaspoon of honey in a cup of rose water.

“This wine has an oaky finish,” is a line you have probably heard a few times in your wine conversations. These compounds that your friends are tasting are oak lactones. Imagine eating your grandma’s pound cake on Sunday afternoon! Those moist, buttery and sweet vanilla flavors that have you salivating are the same notes you get from an oaky Chardonnay.
Quince is another mysterious fruit that has a citrus and tartness to it when raw, embodying more subtle notes of apple and pear. However, unlike most fruits that become sweeter as they mature, quince does not. In fact, in order to tap into the sweetness and more floral note, you will need to cook it down, which develops a softer and denser texture. So, grapes that are grown in cooler climates, may exhibit those citrus and pear notes of quince, whereas wine produced in warmer climates will exude the sweeter yet more tannic notes of quince.
If you’ve ever had a sat in a room with sommeliers or wine enthusiasts, while drinking a Sauvignon Blanc, you may have heard them to identify Cat Pee as a note present in their wine. Cat Pee is indeed a popular term used by New Zealanders. However, we don’t have to use such gruesome terms to describe a wine. Instead, you can just say bitter greens, such as asparagus.
Boysenberries are one of those fruits that you’ve probably heard about often but have never really tried. Well, if you’re one of those people, a boysenberry is really just a hybrid between a blackberry and raspberry. Home to New Zealand and California, boysenberries taste exactly how you would imagine – juicy, sweet, florally, and just like a blackberry and raspberry.

What You Should Know About Wine.


We all know and appreciate Champagne, but do you know what it actually is? Champagne is actually mixture of three different wine varietals Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay that have been strictly harvested from the Champagne Region of France. Yes! Only true Champagne must come from France, and it is in fact made with 2 types of red wine grapes.

So how does it keep its white color? Once the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes are harvested, they are pressed and the juice is quickly separated from the skin to prevent skin contact and the coloration of wine. And what about the bubbles? Where do those come in? Well, Champagne is fermented twice. The first fermentation produces a still (or flat) white wine, as mentioned above, and the second fermentation process must occur in the bottle, where additional yeast is added to support the carbonation of the wine.

Ice Wine

Have you ever seen ice wine on menu or in your local wine shop but never quite knew what it was? Well, ice wines are some of the most delicate, dessert wines that require the perfect timing, weather conditions, and grape quantity to yield a perfect $50 375mL (1/2 a bottle) of wine. These are some of the sweetest wines you will ever taste, which can attributed to how and when these grapes must be picked.  First, you should know that ice wines can be made from several red and white wine grape varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Chardonnay, and many more.

The key thing you should know is that these grapes must be produced in extremely cool climates such as Northern America and Europe, and harvested and produced while frozen. The frozen grapes help concentrate the sugar, while the cool climate helps maintain the acidity of the grape. Ice wine are a must have and are too be enjoyed in small quantities, unless you prefer a sugar overload. 

Cannabis Wine

Great news cannabis lovers! CBD/ THC-infused wines are a thriving market and are becoming more popular by the day. Yes! We’re talking cannabis in your wines.  However, due to American federal regulations, cannabis wines that are produced and sold in the United States must be de-alcoholized prior to the cannabis-infusion. So, if you’re looking to get cross-faded from cannabis wine, you’ll have to try different methods. 

Nonetheless, we want to feature these three cannabis wines, two from the United States (CannaVines Chardonnay and Rebel Coast Sauvignon Blanc) and one from Canada (Black Prince Winery Merlot). Let us know if you get to try them! We want to hear your thoughts!

Wine Varietal Flash Cards

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