Describing what a wine tastes like with words is a little like trying to describe the ocean to someone who's never left the cornfields of Iowa, but these are the challenges we wine writers face. In his astoundingly beautiful new book, The Essence of Wine, Alder Yarrow, the man behind wine blog Vinography, faces this task head on. He points to 46 different flavors and aromas that he’s discovered in his years of wine tasting. And then he muses on them, reminiscing about childhood summers by way of watermelon flavors, and the “razor’s edge between danger and deliciousness” that exists in the aroma of licorice. For each scent, Yarrow gives a list of wines where the flavors can be encountered. “Finding amazing aromas in wine is like a treasure hunt, of sorts,” he says. “You never know when you’re going to run across something astonishing.”
The book, shot by talented still-life photographer Leigh Beisch, is visually transporting in the same way that it’s palate-pleasing, an excellent gift for anyone who loves to really mull over a wine.
We asked Yarrow to tell us about the seven most surprising flavors or aromas he’s found in a glass and here’s what he had to say: