Tertiary aromas in wine refer to the bouquet of smells we associate with wine aging. During the wine aging process, the aromatic compounds that the process of fermentation has created are further enhanced and transformed. There are two main elements of wine aging: exposure to oxygen and oak.
Tertiary Aromas in Wine: Oxygen
Oxygen produces nutty aromas in wine. This is why many wine enthusiasts detect tertiary aromas such as:
- Roasted Peanuts
- Roasted Almonds
Tertiary Aromas in Wine: Oak
In part, oak maturation of wine allows a slow introduction of oxygen into the wine. Thisdevelops the nutty aromas we mentioned above. However, oak also infuses wine with woody aromas. Tasters of oak-finished wine pick up tertiary aromas such as:
Tertiary Aromas in Wine: Others
Depending on what type of wine you are tasting, special ageing methods may have been used, not to finish the wine but to give an already finished wine a certain character. The two most common methods are Sur Lie, which gives wine a yeasty aftertaste, and Madeirising, which imports aromas of cooked sugar.
Tertiary Aromas in Wine: Sur Lie
Sur lie aging is another way to impart aromas to a finished wine. The term lees refers to deposits of spent or residual yeast in the bottom of a vat of wine after the processes of fermentation and aging are complete. Sur lie aging is the process of leaving a finished wine to sit on the lees in order to gain additional aromas from the spent yeast. During sur lie the lees cells break down. This releases aromatic compounds that interact with the chemical make-up of wine. As one might expect, sur lie aging infuses wine with bread, nut and yeast aromas.
Tertiary Aromas in Wine: Madeirizing
Last but not least, a rare but interesting wine aging process is the intentional cooking of wine. This practice causes what is known as Maillard reaction. This is a chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars, which produces a distinct caramel and toffee aroma. Madeira wine is the best known example of a wine that is aged in this way. In fact, this process of repeatedly heating wine is often called Madeirizing.
Tertiary aromas in wine refer to the bouquet of smells wine aging creates. During the aging process, the aromas that the fermentation process has produced develop further or even change. This occurs through the exposure of wine to oxygen, oak and lees. Lastly, another method of aging that enhances the aromas of wine is Madeirising or heating the wine, to impart caramel aromas to it.
Armed with this quick overview of take-away facts about tertiary aromas in wine, you should now be able to link tertiary aromas you detect in wine to the different methods of aging wine.