Wine Questionary:

Aroma wheel: What it is, where to get it

The wines of the world offer thousands of scents in their almost infinite variety. As an aid to novice wine tasters--and experts too--the wine scientists at the University of California at Davis, one of the leading wine-making and grape-growing schools in the U.S., came up years ago with something called the "aroma wheel."

The oenologists at Davis consulted with scores of wine lovers and wine tasters to list all the descriptive terms they could imagine for the smells of wine. Then they organized them, categorized them, eliminated all that seemed ambiguous or less than clear, and ended up with a list of 12 major categories of wine smells, subdivided into 29 subcategories and in 94 specific terms.

It's called a wheel because it is a circular table, with relatively similar smells placed close together around its circumference. Want an aroma wheel to call your own? You can download one from UC/Davis Professor Ann Noble's Website at, where you'll also find information about buying it in laminated form -- or even on a T-shirt.

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