What’s the Difference Between Wine Aroma and Bouquet?

The terms wine bouquet and wine aroma are mentioned quite often during a wine tasting. Sometimes, the difference is explained to those who aren’t well versed in tasting wine. Sometimes, however, the consumer isn’t quite sure what the difference is, and what they should be looking for in either aroma or bouquet. What are these terms, what do they mean, and what influence do they have on your wine or wine experience?

Before getting into the difference between aromas and bouquet, it’s important to note that a wine has three main aromas:

Primary aromas: These aromas come from the type of grape used in wine making

Secondary aromas: These aromas develop during the pre-fermentation and fermentation process.

Tertiary aromas: These aromas develop during the post-fermentation process while aging in the wine barrel or wine bottle.

Wine aroma refers to the grape variety, and wine bouquet refers to the

Vino, Wine, Virginia

Vino, Wine, Virginia

fermentation and aging process. For example, when a grape is made into wine, it offers a unique blend of smells, or aromas. Aromas come in three categories: herb, flower, and fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its raspberry, green peppercorn, black currant and mint aromas. The smell comes from a molecular level where these aroma compounds look identical to the actual smell of the fruit.


Wine bouquet however is found with wine is fermented and turns grape sugars into alcohol. This process will create a group of bouquets that are often referred to as tertiary aromas.  Aging wine will general produce elements that alter the aroma compounds in the wine after it’s been fermented. Oak barrels will also affect the bouquet of a wine as does the temperature of the wine. Common bouquets are smoke, walnuts, butterscotch, and vanilla, baking spices, and dried leaves.


A good, mature wine will have a complex bouquet, which takes years to develop. At your next wine tasting, hone in to the different aromas you Vino Virginia  Wine Tour 2014 - 31sense, and see if you can pick up on specific aromas not mentioned during your tasting. Tell us how you identify aromas, and what techniques you use. We want to hear from you!

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