Spring is one of my favorite seasons. A time of change, when the trees and flowers awaken from their winter slumber with invigorating aromas and beauty. I’ve had so much fun these last few weeks, on my outdoor runs, experiencing this transition. It got me thinking about all the aromatic wines I enjoy. I’ve put together a short list of some of my favorites and included one varietal I am not familiar with but will surely be adding to my collection.
Let’s get technical a bit before we dive in. What makes a wine aromatic? Terpenes are the elements that give wines their floral aromas. Aromatic white wines tend to have higher levels of this compound which is the same aroma found in flowers! It is easy to get immersed by these wines, simply by sniffing for a long period of time, although I do recommend taking a sip here and there.
ALBARIÑO. A grape varietal native to Galicia on the northern coast of Spain. It is also a fundamental varietal in the Rias Baixas DO. This is a high acidic white wine. By aging in oak or lees aging, this will bring more texture and fullness to the wine. Depending on the style, Albariño often displays citrus, peach, melon and mineral characteristics. A refreshing white wine that pairs nicely with seafood. Imagery Winery carries one of my favorite Albariños.
GEWÜRZTRAMINER. A grape varietal that originates from Germany. This varietal typically has lower acidity than an Albariño but contains a higher level of alcohol than other aromatic wines. Gewürztraminer is known for its weighty lychee aroma. You may discover a bit of effervesce and sweetness with this varietal. A perfect pairing to Indian food! Other notable aromas include rose, tangerine, ginger and grapefruit. Wine.com has a great variety of Gewürztraminer wines.
RIESLING. A versatile grape that can range from dry to sweet, high acidity, and is also used in sparkling wines. You won’t find this varietal oaked and it is not normally blended. Germany is a main producer of Riesling, producing high acidic wines with intense aromatics with a hint of sweetness. Alsace, which is next to Germany, tends to have more dry and mineral driven Rieslings. Some of my favorite aromas of a Riesling include; lime, petro and beeswax. A unique varietal that pairs nicely with so many foods but is a stunner with Thai food. I like Dr. Heidemanns, a great value wine you can purchase through Total Wine.
TORRONTÉS. This is a varietal I am not familiar with but excited to explore. This grape originates from Argentina and is another good option to pair with Asian or Indian food. According to Wine Folly, the wine smells sweet but is mainly made in a dry style and the best Torrontés wines come from the high elevation vineyards in Salta, Argentina. Aromas of rose petal, geranium, peach and lemon are common with saline coming through on the palate. I’ll be going to my local wine store to see what options I can find. Wine.com has a nice selection too.
VIOGNIER. Saved the best for last, one of my favorite aromatic wines! This varietal tends to be a fuller-bodied white wine, often aged in oak to add richness on the palate. Originated from France, it is the only permitted grape in the French wine Condrieu, which is in the Rhône Valley. Now days, you can find Viognier around the world. Depending on style, you may find lighter flavors of honeysuckle, tangerine and mango or a creamier weight on the palate with notes of vanilla and spice. You likely will experience an oiliness with a Viognier, a texture I really enjoy. I just ordered a Viognier from Pride Wines, can’t wait to try!
There are so many beautiful aromatic wine options out there, these are just a few of my favorites. If you aren’t familiar with aromatic wines, step out of your comfort zone and try something new. I dare you.