Primary, secondary and tertiary aromas

When we come across a wine tasting there are many concepts and many   clichés that can shuffle and confuse the consumer.

If we analyse what constitutes the set of aromas of a wine, we can say that it is divided in three types of aromas: the primary, or varietal; the secondary and the tertiary.

The varietal aromas have their origin in chemical compounds that are present in the pulp of the grape berry. These chemical compounds vary from grape variety to grape variety. We can even say that the varietal aromas are the basis of the wine aroma. These aromas give unique and special characteristics, which will give the wine a special highlight.

We can find floral aromas (pink, violet, clove, jasmine, honeysuckle, orange blossom), fruity aromas (citrus, apple, pear, quince, apricot, passion fruit, banana, red fruits) and minerals (stone, chalk and petrol).

There are some varieties more aromatic and easier to identify than others. This is the example of the Moscatel Galego whose aroma of lychees is more prominent, both in the grape and in the wine.

It is during the alcoholic fermentation that the secondary aromas are formed, through the action of the yeasts. These, along with the fermentation conditions (place and temperature where the fermentation takes place, type of yeasts used) will influence the aromatic profile of the final wine. For example, if a wine is fermented in a French oak cask the wine will acquire more complex aromas such as toast, coffee, caramel, chocolate. If the fermentation takes place in stainless steel, the most characteristic aromas are bread, milk and butter.

Finally, the tertiary aromas develop in the wine during its aging, in wood and bottle or just bottle. From this contact between wine and wood we can obtain more complex aromas such as tobacco, cocoa, nuts, caramel.