Tertiary (TUR-she-air-ee)

If you drink only young wine, you might not have run across this word. Tertiary refers to aromas and flavors that come as a result of a wine’s long aging in the bottle—aromas and flavors like complex exotic spices, deep earthiness, old books, worn leather, and so on. (Although admittedly these can sometimes show up in younger wines, too). In general, “primary” aromas and flavors are fruity characters that come from the grape—like blackberries, cassis, or cherry flavors. “Secondary” aromas and flavors come from winemaking—the sweet, vanilla flavors that come from barrel fermentation, for example. And tertiary aromas and flavors (whatever they happen to be) come as a result of age.


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