Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I’m confused by what “note” means in a wine description. Does it mean aroma? Or smell?
—Sharon, Shenzhen, China
“Notes” can refer to aromas, flavors or both aromas and flavors. “Note” to me indicates a more nuanced part of a wine’s profile—“a floral note” means that the floral component of the wine isn’t dominating the wine. Other words wine writers might use to indicate aromas and flavors include “hint,” “nuance,” “tone,” “undertone,” “touch” and “whiff.”
I like the term “note” because it reminds me of music, and how there can be many different notes that come together into a pleasing chorus or chord. Likewise with wine, there can be many small things you pick up when tasting and smelling a wine, and hopefully they all work together in harmony.