What does "minerality" mean in a wine's flavor profile? Aren't minerals flavorless?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What is meant by the term “minerality” when it is used to describe a wine’s flavor profile? Minerals as I understand are flavorless. And can one use this term when describing a wine’s bouquet?

—Alex, Maldives

Dear Alex,

Minerality is a tricky one to explain, but it refers to a group of non-fruit, non-herb, non-spice notes. Mineral notes can describe aroma or taste or both. Think of the taste of the sea that you get from crunchy sea salt or oysters. The smell of a sidewalk after it rains. Sometimes it’s like chalk—if you’ve ever stood next to a chalkboard, you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes it’s like crushed rocks or gravel. Saline and flint are other takes on minerality.

—Dr. Vinny

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