The term aromatic is not clearly defined as wines can have varying intensities of aromas, depending on where and how the wine are made. So I use this as a general term to make it easier for you to ask for wine without having to remember to many details.
Aromatic wines are those that have notable floral, perfumed aromas that can be found in certain grape varieties. They are predominantly, but not exclusively, white wines. The floral aromas found in wine are similar to rose petal, orange blossom, violet, jasmine and white flowers. This is because aromatic wines and flowers contain a higher level of compound cells called terpenes, responsible for these pleasant aromas.
The most well known grapes that make aromatic wines are Riesling, with aromas of white flowers along with lime and honey. Albariño, from Galicia, has delicate floral aromas together with lemon and grapefruit aromas and is similar to Loureiro another grape native to Rias Baixas. Moscato, widely planted in Valencia, Alicante and further south in Granada, has aromas of orange blossom and fresh grapes. Gewurtztraminer, native of Alsace in Francia, has aromas of rose petals with tropical fruits, while Torrontes, from Argentina has rose and citrus aromas.
Gruner Veltliner from Austria has aromas of white flowers with citrus fruits and a hint of white pepper, a very attractive combination. If you are accustomed to asking for Chardonnay, why not try the more aromatic Viognier from the Languedoc with its wonderful floral, apricot and peach aromas.
Sauvignon Blanc could be included in this group of wines. While it is not known for its floral character it does have pronounced lemon, lime and distinctive grassy, herbaceous aromas
Smelling aromatic wines can be fascinating because of the clearly identifiable aromas that linger and can be enjoyed with every sniff.
The way the wines are made plays an important role in determining the intensity of the aromas. Fermenting at cool temperature helps to keep the fresh aromas, also these styles of wines will not normally be aged in oak barrels because the vanilla and toasted oaky aromas will overpower the perfumed aromas.
As an aperitif a chilled glass of a wine of this style is delicious and works well for a group of friends or for a party.
When matching aromatic wines with food, try to match intensities of flavours and both the wine and the dish will benefit. Many aromatic Indian and Thai dishes are ideal to accompany aromatic wines. If the the dish is aromatic and slightly spicy I recommend that you try an aromatic wine that is slightly off dry, such as a Gewurztraminer from Alsace or a Riesling ‘spatlese’ from Germany, which tend to be semi sweet but with a high level of natural acidity are well balanced and great food wines.
Next time you are in a restaurant or wine shop and are not familiar with the wines on display, ask for an dry aromatic white. There is a wide range to choose from that are suitable for many occasions.