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Dear Dr. Vinny,
What does the word "notes" refer to when describing a wine? Is it the smell or the taste?
—Oscar F., Diamond Bar, Calif.
"Notes," as in "notes of green apple," can refer to either aromas or flavors or both. Keep in mind that the relationship between smell and taste is very strong—much of what we "taste" is actually what we smell. The word is simply a device for writers to convey what they're experiencing. Other fancy words wine writers use to indicate aromas and flavors include "hint," "tone," "undertone," and "whiff," among others.
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