A Technical Guide
for Wine Producers


Pinotage Aroma Wheel

Johann Marais and Neil Jolly ARC Infruitec-Nietvoorbij, Stellenbosch

Key words: Pinotage, aroma wheel, aroma terminology, sensory evaluation


Vitis vinifera L. cv. Pinotage (Pinot noir x Cinsaut noir) was developed in South Africa in 1924 by Prof. Abraham Izak Perold. In 1995 the Pinotage Association was established to ensure the continued interest and development of this unique variety. This association, as well as consumers of Pinotage, worked hard through the years to enhance Pinotage grape and wine quality, to develop specific wine styles and to market Pinotage wines locally as well as abroad. One of the most recent initiatives was the development of a Pinotage Aroma Wheel. Such an aroma wheel will not only be of value to wine judges/connoisseurs during wine evaluations, but also to ordinary wine drinkers who want to learn more about Pinotage wine aromas.

Development of the aroma wheel

To collect suitable aroma terminology for typical Pinotage wines (young as well as aged), a questionnaire was sent to Pinotage producers, wine writers and other interested parties. Fifty persons responded. The aroma terms or descriptors were grouped, condensed and synonyms were consolidated. The final group of terms was evaluated and arranged by a panel of Pinotage connoisseurs in order to compile an effective aroma terminology system.

The aroma wheel is shown in Figure 1 and the Afrikaans version in Figure 2.

The use of the aroma wheel

The Pinotage aroma wheel was compiled to include all the characteristic aromas of the wines produced from this unique variety. These aromas are derived from the grape, are formed during fermentation and are extracted from wood during storage. The focus was on positive aromas only and faults such as oxidation and over-aged flavours, which may generally occur in all varietal wines, were not taken into account. The aroma terms were arranged in two tiers. The inner tier contains more general and the outer tier more specific descriptors. Tasters of Pinotage wine may either use the inner tier and work outwards to identify the more precise descriptor, or match his/her sensory perception with the outer tier descriptors and make the connection with the main umbrella aroma terms in the inner tier.


The Pinotage Aroma Wheel can be ordered from: The Manager, Pinotage Association, P. O. Box 204, Stellenbosch 7599, South Africa or by e-mail: info@pinotage.co.za


Financial support by the Pinotage Association and the graphic design of the wheel by Hannes Oosthuizen from The Upper Room.

For further information contact Dr Johann Marais at (021) 809-3096 or maraisj@arc.agric.za.

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