What does “note” mean?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What does “note” mean?

—Cheryl S., Arvada, Colo.

Dear Cheryl,

I imagine you’re referring to the use of “note” in a wine-tasting note, when a wine is described as having “notes” of berries or herbs or the like. “Note” can refer to a flavor or aroma. Even though wine descriptions can come across as a bit stuffy, the way the words are used often follows typical usage—a “note” is both a record of someone’s impression of something, and can be used to describe a characteristic or quality. After all, if a relationship can end on a sour note, so can a wine.

I think it really helps to look at tasting notes in context, and I usually take note (ha) that “note” is used when describing more subtle parts of a wine, just as “hint,” “nuance,” “whiff,” “trace,” “dash,” “touch,” “tad,” “tone” or “undertone” would.

—Dr. Vinny

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