Wine Aroma wheel Copyright A C NOBLE 1990,2002 winearomawheel.com
You may have read tasting notes describing a wine using an incredible array of complex or unfamiliar terms: “ripe cherries”; “crisp apple”; “oak undertones”; and so forth.
This kind of terminology serves a good purpose, in that it allows a wine’s flavors and aromas to be described in writing, and stored for later reference. It can also be very helpful for matching wines with specific foods.
But to the casual wine drinker, tasting vocabulary can seem a daunting proposition. Thankfully, most everyone can train their nose to detect specific aromas in a wine. With a little practice, you can learn to distinguish between aromas, in the same way your eyes can tell the difference between the colors red and orange.
In 1990, after extensive research, Professor Ann C. Noble of the University of California at Davis devised the Tasting Wheel. It divides various aromas associated with wines into 12 separate categories. Beginning in the center of a wheel, wine drinkers can identify general flavors and, moving outwards from the wheel’s center, identify more and more precise aromas in the wine. Ultimately, the taster arrives at a specific set of terms that best describe what they experienced in tasting the wine.
At the permission of Professor Noble, we have reproduced a low-resolution version of the wheel here. We would encourage anyone interested in owning a copy of the tasting wheel to visit Professor Noble’s Web site, and purchase a laminated, detailed wheel from her. Her Web site may be found at: