Why do wines exhibit so many different smells and tastes?

Now you might wonder how wines come to display so many different smells and tastes if nothing is added to them. How is it that you might smell or taste a variety of floral, fruit, mineral, or vegetal notes when there are only grapes used in making the wine? Many factors influence the grapes and the tastes that they will impart to the wine. The type of grape or “varietal” (Chardonnay grapes or Merlot grapes for example), the region in which they are grown, the type of soil they are grown in, the grapes' sun and water exposure, and the temperatures (both day and night) of the vineyard, all affect the taste of the grapes and the subsequent wine. In addition, the vessel in which the wine is fermented in, such as a steel tank, concrete vat, or even a polyurethane cube, will affect the flavor and smell of the wine. Finally, the vessel in which the wine is aged in matters too. Steel tanks vs oak barrels are common but the oak can be American, French, or Hungarian, among others, and the barrels can be new wood or “neutral” (meaning previously used for wine and therefore a milder wood flavor). Oak barrels can also be charred (burned) on the inside, or even previously used to age bourbon, whiskey or beer. All of these factors influence the smell and taste of the wine.

Now, take some time to smell the roses, and some wines, and see what you notice!

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