Common wine aromas

I've put these common tasting terms for aromas into groups, but their real use, I hope, is to help you when blind tasting. (If a mature red wine smells strongly of strawberries, for example, chances are it’s a traditional rioja.) This is also a personal guide to developing a wine vocabulary of your own. None of us tastes in exactly the same way, so your impressions and most obvious expressions are likely to be subtly different from mine.

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Animal
Processed Bacon fat Ripe Alsace
Leather Wood-aged reds, especially Australian
Raw Cat's pee Sauvignon Blanc
Game Mature red Burgundy, Rhône
Meaty Pomerol
Mousey Brettanomyces
Burnt
Burning rubber Syrah
Burnt toast Old Hunter Valley Semillon
Coffee Madeira, Banyuls, old reds
Smoky Alsace whites
Toasted bread Fine oaked Chardonnay
Chemical
Other Acetaldehyde Sherry, oxidation
Peardrops Beaujolais Nouveau, carbonic maceration
Paper Dry cardboard Glasses from a cardboard box
Wet cardboard Dirty filter pads
Sulphur Rotten eggs Hydrogen sulphide / mercaptans (aeration can help)
Struck match Free sulphur (especially for asthmatics)
Earthy
Dirty dishcloth Dirty glasses
Mould TCA, 'corkiness' or other taint
Undergrowth Mature, full reds
Floral
Elderflower Young, cool climate whites
Orange blossom Muscat
Rose Nebbiolo, Muscat
Vaguely floral Riesling and crosses
Violet Top quality mature reds
Fruity
Berry Blackberry Northern Rhône red
Blackcurrant Cabernet Sauvignon
Gooseberry Sauvignon Blanc
Grape Muscat
Mulberry Shiraz
Raspberry Young Pinot Noir
Strawberry red Rioja
Citrus Grapefruit English wine, Scheurebe
Lemon Acidified whites
Lime Australian Riesling
Orange Marsala, sweet Italians
Dried Fig Port
Prune Recioto, concentrated reds
Raisin Banyuls, Liqueur Muscat
Tree Apricot Viognier / Condrieu
Black cherry Mature Pinot Noir
Peach Eastern European whites
Pear Piedmont whites
Tropical Banana Beaujolais
Lychee Gewürztraminer
Melon Mâcon Blanc
Pineapple Cool fermented whites
Microbiological
Lactic Buttery Rich Chardonnay
Yeast Bread Some Champagne
Flor Manzanilla, Fino
Mineral
Flint Pouilly-Fumé, Sancerre
Petrol/kerosene Aged Riesling
Wet stones Chablis
Nutty
Almondy Almond Soave
Marzipan Marsanne
Other Chestnut Some Portuguese reds
Coconut American oak
Hazelnuts White burgundy
Spicy
Black pepper Syrah
Liquorice Dense red wines, especially Syrah
Spicy Alsace whites, Southern Rhône reds
Vanilla American oak
Sweet
Barley sugar Sauternes
Biscuit Old champagne
Caramel Ripe reds
Chocolate Shiraz
Honey Chenin Blanc, Riesling
Molasses Piemonte reds
Vegetal
Dried Straw Chenin Blanc
Tea Young port
Tobacco Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Fresh Currant leaves Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc
Eucalyptus Ripe Cabernet Sauvignon, especially Australian
Geranium leaves Sorbic acid
Grassy Sauvignon Blanc, underripe grapes
Green pepper less-than-ripe Cabernet Sauvignon or Franc
Mint New World Cabernet Sauvignon
Nettles Sauvignon Blanc
Processed Boiled cabbage Botrytis (noble rot)
Canned asparagus New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Woody
Cigar box Red bordeaux
Oaky Any oaked wine, most obvious on Chardonnay
Pencil shavings Cabernet Franc
Pine Retsina
Wet wood Dirty cooperage