Aromas in Wine

When it comes to wine, the terms; Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Aromas are often used to describe the different aromas of a wine. These terms relate to the production and ageing process of the wine and how that reflects in the glass in front of you

Primary Aromas
The Grapes

Primary aromas come from the grape. Here is where we, in particular, can tell the different varieties apart, where a Chardonnay does not have the same aromas as a Sauvignon Blanc. Fruit driven and sometimes floral aromas is the most common types. But these, fruity and floral aromas, can sometimes also derive from the production process, which would technically then make them into a Secondary Aroma, but generally we talk about them as Primary Aromas

Secondary Aromas
The Production Process

From when the grapes arrive at the winery, until the finished bottle leaves the production line, everything deriving from the process in between, is described as Secondary Aromas. Here is where we find fermentations aromas from the alcoholic fermentation, dairy aromas from the malolactic fermentation, wood and spice from oak, and many more savoury aromas. Again, the exact line between Secondary and Tertiary Aromas can sometimes be confusing, for example the oxidative side of oak ageing wine, technically adds Tertiary Aromas, based on the definition below. But simply said, everything that has to do with the choices of the winemaker is Secondary Aromas

Tertiary Aromas
Time

Tertiary aromas derive from time, the ageing process. Be it oxidative aging in an oak barrel or the (sometimes reductive) aging of a wine in a bottle, it all adds to the Tertiary Aromas. These are generally earthy and savoury.