Berries, cherries, plums, stone fruits, apples, peaches, apricots, prunes, nectarines. I’ve read and heard flavors and aromas of wine described using each and every one of these fruits (and many more). Today, as I swirled a nice red around my glass and took a healthy whiff, I detected a pleasant fruity aroma, but just couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Plum. No. Cherry? Nope. Then it suddenly dawned on me, I was smelling grape.
I had to wonder, is this a bad thing?
It makes total sense to me that a wine might smell like the fruit it was made from, but I never, ever hear anyone admitting to a fine wine smelling like grapes. On labels, reviews, at tastings, I hear rhapsodic descriptions of every fruit known to man, save one.
Maybe wine just rarely reflects its origins in taste or aroma. After all, it is one of wine’s chief charms that there are so many interesting and sometimes elusive scents and tastes that develop in each one, and they are never the same twice. That is why I choose to drink wine (i.e. fermented grapes) instead of say blackberry or plum “wine”. Those, while at times delicious and fun, always always seem to taste just exactly like the fruit from which they are made. They are invariable and predictable.
I’ve heard non-vinifera varieties produce wines described as “grapey” but that doesn’t seem to be meant as compliment.
The cult of wine is built on the delight of its complexity and unique characteristics. But I still think that once in awhile, in among all those other interesting tastes or scents, we would find grapes.
Have you ever tasted or smelled grapes in wine?