What are "nodes" in reference to wine?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Can you explain what “nodes” would refer to in reference to in a wine’s aroma or flavor? In my research, I know that the “node” is the bud/nob on a grapevine, but what does it mean when used to discuss the characteristics of wine?

—Alexis, Conway, Ark.

Dear Alexis,

Most of the time when I see “nodes” in the context of wine, it’s what you’ve just described: the enlarged part of a grapevine from which a shoot might grow.

There are a couple other, less common ways the word can be used in relation to wine. One definition of a node is the intersection of two data points, and in this meaning, I’ve seem some studies about “flavor networks” that map out flavors and ingredients and use these “nodes” to come up with strategies for pairing things together, including food and wine. Finally, the idea of a node meaning a “data point” is the last way that I’ve seen it used in tasting notes. Rather than saying a wines has “aromas” or “flavors” or “notes” of some details, some wine writers will say a wine has a “node” of black tea or spice.

—Dr. Vinny

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