FLOWERS AND WINE THROUGH TIME
Wine has been steeped in tradition for centuries, and flowers have long held a special place in the history of wine. From folklore to superstitions, these aromatics have played an important role in deeply rooted celebrations and rituals across cultures.
In China, chrysanthemum wine became popular at least as far back as 247–195 B.C.E. (the Han Dynasty), when it would be sipped every ninth day of the ninth lunar month for protection. Today, people continue to drink the historic beverage during the Double Ninth Festival, a harvest celebration in China, as a good luck omen and for health benefits. Dandelion wine has been made in the United States since at least the 1800s with the first mentions of the practice dating back to the settlers of the Great Plains in 1892.
While many associate floral aromas with sweet wines such as Moscato or Riesling, they can be enjoyed in all styles of wine. For example, aromas such as roses, jasmine and lavender can be found in white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Grigio. Aromas of violets and geraniums are often found in red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
In some traditions, flowers and herbs have also been used for superstitious reasons. For instance, in Ancient Greece, corks were adorned with rosemary to bring good fortune and luck to the drinker. In Italy, it was believed that a nosegay of roses on the table would protect the drinker from becoming too intoxicated, and in many regions of Spain, it is customary to add a few petals to a glass of sherry before serving it. There are practical reasons why wine and flowers are associated, too. To this day, wine grape farmers often plant rose bushes on the ends of their vineyard rows as the roses will show signs of disease first, giving warning to the grower so they can save their precious grape harvest.
WHY DO WINES SMELL LIKE FLOWERS?
What wines have aromas of your favourite blooms? Let’s dig into the fragrant domain of flowers and wine to find out.
Terpenes are compounds found in wine that produce white-blossom scents such as lily, elderflower, linden blossom and orange blossom. White flowers tend to be clean, breezy and pretty, with honeyed tones coming from flowers like honeysuckle, jasmine, acacia and hawthorn. The scents are undetectable in the grapes themselves, only being released and becoming aromatic during fermentation. In general, white wines tend to have aromatics of white and yellow flowers such as honeysuckle and chamomile, whereas reds tend to evoke purple and pink flowers like rose, geranium, peony, violet, and lavender. Some grapes are naturally more floral, including Riesling, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Torrontés and Gewürztraminer for whites and Gamay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Nebbiolo for reds.
PAIR YOUR FAVOURITE FLORAL SCENTS TO WINE VARIETIES
Rose and Geranium
Wines that can have aromatics of roses include Gewürztraminer, Nebbiolo, Grenache, Gamay, Pinot Noir, and Sangiovese. Non-alcoholic rose wine, made by soaking Bosnian rose petals, is what Angelina Jolie sipped at her wedding to Brad Pitt.
White Blossom and Jasmine
These perfumed notes are most likely to be found in Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Muscadet, Fiano, and Torrontes.
Chardonnay, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, and Riesling tend to have citrus blossom aromas.
Lavender bouquets are often found in wines made from Petit Verdot, Malbec, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo.
Syrah, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Grenache, and Mourvèdre.
Peony and Gardenia
Chardonnays, especially those grown and produced around Baune, in southern Burgundy, have notes of peony and gardenia.
HOW TO PAIR FLORAL WINES WITH FOOD
Wine and flowers have been intertwined since ancient times, and many people believe that pairing the right floral aromatics with food can elevate a meal. For example, a dish with lemon or lime zest pairs well with a wine featuring jasmine aromas. Dishes featuring herbs like basil or oregano are complemented by wines boasting violet notes. Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc aromas of elderflower or grapefruit are ideal with seafood dishes.
Ready to take your floral wine pairing skills to the next level? See our guide to throwing the ultimate garden party!