(Image via supermariolxpt's flickr.)
What do you smell when you sniff your wine? Where do words like tobacco and mushrooms come from? These are words that typically describe a wine's bouquet versus its aroma. (You're getting two words today since it's impossible to talk about one without describing the other.) Yes, these are technically different terms in wine tasting, yet they are often used interchangeably and often confused.
Aroma describes those smells that are derived from the grape itself. These words will be familiar to you. They are all the fruit and floral words you read in tasting notes. Green apple, lemon, mango, peach, raspberry, black currant, strawberry, cherry, violets, gardenia, figs, and hundreds more.
Bouquet on the other hand describes those smells that are derived from processing or aging the wine. This is where the funkier terms come in: Mushroom, cigar box, damp leaves, vanilla, earth, leather, tobacco, cedar, and so on.
This is one of the ways that professional tasters can detect the age of a wine. An older wine will have a predominate bouquet while its aromas will be muted. Why would that be important, you ask? When wine is being purchased as an investment or a high end wine is being served at a restaurant, you need to be wary of fakes or being served the wrong wine. Knowing how something should taste helps them be better consumers of wine.