In the case of red wines, aromas and flavors are usually broken down into two categories—red fruits and black fruits. What’s key to pinpointing whether you have a red or black fruit wine is trying actually to identify a particular fruit type. For example, it’s not enough just to think that the wine smells like a red fruit. What red fruit aromas are there—cherries, strawberries, etc? This type of identification not only helps confirm that the wine is indeed a red fruit wine, but also will help hone your sense of smell. If you can’t identify a particular type of red fruit, maybe your initial reaction was wrong and it’s actually a black fruit wine. Can you identify a particular black fruit, maybe black cherries or plums?
Identifying whether you smell red fruits or black fruits can help determine the wine type, or at least the types of grapes that dominate a blend. Without boring you with a list of every red grape variety and stating whether it generally has red fruit or black fruit characteristics, I’m going to make a few recommendations and observations. I find red fruits easier to identify than black fruits. With that in mind, if you want to try fruit identification in a red wine, I recommend starting with a Pinot Noir or a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which is a Grenache-dominated blend. Both types of wine are good try for identifying red fruits because of their fruit-forward characteristics. If you want to try the identification, but rather start with a black fruit wine, I recommend a Shiraz/Syrah, particularly an Australian Shiraz, as they’re also often very fruit-forward wines.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to practice with wine that has already prepared tasting notes. It’s the perfect way for the novice wine-drinker to get help guiding his/her senses through a tasting, as well as for the veteran taster to test him/herself to see if s/he can smell and taste the same things.
Common Red Fruit Aromas/Flavors in Wine
Common Black Fruit Aromas/Flavors in Wine