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Aromatic & Flavor Elements of Pinot Noir

Barbara Drady of Affairs of the Vine has compiled a comprehensive list of the aromatic elements of Pinot Noir. I published this list last year with some modification and revision. Because this reference list can be very helpful in improving your tasting acumen, I am repeating the list of aromatic and flavor elements in this issue.

Aromatic & Flavor Elements of Pinot Noir Grapes

Cherry, Black Cherry, Wild Cherry, Dried Cherry, Raspberry, Raspberry Jam

Strawberry, Wild Strawberry, Strawberry Jam

Blackberry, Blackberry Jam




Red and Black Current, Raisin


Tangerine, Grapefruit, Orange Peel

Rose Petals, Violets

Roasted Tomato, Ripe Tomato, Green Tomato. Beet, Black Olive

Earth, Wet Leaves, Forest Floor, Barnyard, Mushroom, Truffle

Raw or Grilled Meat, Game, Animale, Sauvage, Leather

Tea, Coffee


Mint, Spearmint, Peppermint

Herbs, Herbs de Provence, Lavender, Rosemary

Cinnamon, Oregano, Cardamon, Black or White Pepper


Cola, Cherry Cola, Sassfras



Oak-Derived Aromas & Flavors

Earthy: Ash, Mushroom, Shoe Box, Wet Cardboard, Musty, Leather

Herbaceous: Weedy, Dill, Mown Hay, Menthol, Grass, Tobacco

Woody: Oak, Seasoned Oak, Cedar, Sandalwood, Sawdust, Pencil Shavings, Green, Pine, Tar, Sap, Resin

Astringent: Harshness, Chewiness, Bitterness, Angular, Tannic, Drying

Spice: Clove, Cinnamon, Vanilla, Coconut

Toast-Derived Aromas & Flavors

Sweet: Brown Sugar, Bourbon, Cotton Candy, Chocolate, Maple Syrup, Butterscotch, Hot Fudge, Caramel,

Molasses, Honey, Toffee, Soy

Creamy: Vanilla, Cream Soda, Marshmallow, Lactic, Butter

Yeasty: Popcorn, Baked Bread, Bread Stick, Brioche, Cookie Dough

Nutty: Hazelnut, Walnut, Almond, Peanut Butter, Coconut

Smoky: Barbecue, Grilled Meats, Bacon, Sweet Smoke, Burnt Sugar

Roasted: Graham Cracker, Toasted Bread, Coffee, Mocha, Cereal

Spicy: Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Clove, Licorice, Anise


Sulfur dioxide

Hydrogen Sulfide (rotten egg)

Mercaptan (sulfur-containing compounds - onion or garlic)

Brettanomyces (horsey, stables, sweaty saddle)

Wet Newspaper, Wet Cardboard (corky)

TCA (wet cardboard, moldy)

Perdicoccus (metallic)

Wet Dog


Rubber, Burnt

Diacetyl (a ketone - buttery or cheesy)

Acetaldehyde (oxidized smell - sherry)

Ethyl Acetate (acetic acid + ethanol - fruity

Acetic Acid (Vinegar)

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