We wine pros excel at throwing around jargon like mineral, earthy, and fruity that is meant to convey a whole lot about how a drink smells or tastes, but doesn’t actually mean anything to most people. Given that wine is made from fruit that comes from the earth, it ought to taste at least a bit fruity and earthy, no? Floral is another term we love to employ. Describing a wine as “floral” is certainly evocative: consider the dazzling color of a field of wild poppies, the sweet and balmy scent of blooming jasmine, and the silky, seductive sensation of rose petals brushing against one’s skin. But what does it actually mean? On a quest for enlightenment, a group of us paid a visit to Flowerland, our friendly local nursery, to stop and smell the flowers. After all, there must be a good reason why a wine’s aromatic signature is often referred to as its “bouquet.” However, our experience perhaps raised more questions than it did provide answers. Just as wine is a living being, sensitive to variations in temperature, humidity, and other factors, certain blossoms can be more or less aromatic depending on time of day, weather, and other aspects of their environment. And just like some wines are best enjoyed at certain times of year, seasonal flowers show their colors only during specific seasons. Ultimately, much more investigation is needed before we can confidently tie the scent of flowers to those of fermented grapes. But to further entertain this idea, we selected six bottles often described in terms of their floral aromatics for you to judge for yourself. Do you identify orange blossoms wafting up from a glass of Kante’s limestone-born Malvasia Istriana? How about notes of violet and peony soaring from a bright, juicy goblet of Gamay—grown in Fleurie, no less? Is Sardinian mountain Cannonau reminiscent of sweet rose petals?
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa