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Want to impress all of your friends with your vast knowledge of wine know-how? We’ve got you covered. Go over this list of common (and not so common in some instances) wine characteristics and become to “Go To” friend when it comes to wine.


Butterscotch, honey, molasses, chocolate, soy sauce (For example, all of the above could be smelled independently in a glass of wine, but you could generally describe a wine as having a “caramel” aroma if you detect caramel, molasses or honey in the nose.) Some examples are Sauternes, California Chardonnay and French Puligny-Montrachet


Moldy, mushroom, dusty, chalky, mineral (Frequently used in describing Red Burgundy, Zinfandel or some fine examples of California Pinot Noir.) Thankfully, it tastes far better than the description allows.


Violet, rose, orange blossom.

*Some examples are Chenin Blanc, Vouvray and Sancerre.


Which kind of fruit exactly? Below are examples of specific fruits, because it is often too limiting to say, “I smell fruit.” Determining which type of fruit helps identify the wine with more accuracy.
Tree Fruit: Apple, Pear, Peach
Tropical Fruit: Pineapple, Melon, Banana
Citrus Fruit: Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon, Lime
Red Fruit: Cherry, Strawberry, Raspberry, Currant
Dark Fruit: Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Blueberry, Plum, Raisin

*Some red wines that commonly display these fruity tastes are Beaujolais, Merlot and Pinot Noir

Herbaceous or Vegetative

Fresh: Cut green grass, bell pepper, eucalyptus, mint
Canned/Cooked: Green beans, asparagus, green olive, black olive, artichoke
Dried: Tea, tobacco

*Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Riesling are good examples of herbaceous or vegetative tastes and aromas


Walnut, hazelnut, almond. Often used to describe sherries, Meursault and a few Madeiras


Licorice, anise, black pepper, cloves, Australian Shiraz, Rhone wines, California Zinfandels


Burnt: Smoky, coffee
Resinous: Oak, cedar, vanilla

*Good examples include Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon