By Rick Riozza

When it comes to treating one’s body at a fancy resort—especially out here in our tourist desert, besides all the stylistic massages going on, adding “essential oils” and/or lotions seem to really bump-up the experience.

And most therapy programs at spas, resorts, private businesses, and medical health offices concur that combining aromatherapy with massage can truly relax your senses, helping to reduce any anxiety and tension you may be experiencing. The healing touch of massage releases endorphins. These are hormones known as “feel good chemicals” because they have natural pain relief and stress reduction properties.

Geez!—and to boot, I bet there are some sessions that are conducting wine tastings as well! Sign us up stat!


Of course we wine enthusiasts have been experiencing aromatherapy in a different more culinary way, simply by enjoying a nice glass of wine. Especially those classic aromatic white wines that include Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Moscato, Pinot Gris, Viognier, and Torrontès. Although we drink up the Sauv Blanc most of the time here in the desert, we still have a dedicated fan group for Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Moscato (still or sparkling); and for the autumn favorite: Gervurtz!

On the red side of things, one has to admit that Pinot Noir fits the bill along with Syrahs, Zinfandels, and red blends—which are usually made up from a combo of Syrah, Zin, and Petite Sirah. (We can probably through in the Sangiovese Grosso, from Brunello di Montalcino—but we’ll keep that for, yet, another Italian wine article!)

Clearly, what makes for a full-on aromatic wine, are those that have intense floral scents, fragrances, and—well, bouquets! resulting from unique aromatic compounds found in white wine grapes.

For you nerds, you know that these aromatic compounds are called monoterpenes (a subgroup of terpenes.) Terpenes and monoterpenes are found in many aromatic plants and flowers like roses, geranium, pine, lavender, and more. The monoterpenes compound produces the rich, distinct aromas of orange blossom, rose petals, and honeysuckle in whites.

Now because these aromatic wines are so fragrant, most of us enjoy a glass every so often—as an apéro or just having a chilled glass of wine for the afternoon. We usually go for the more subtle wines that stay in the background during dinner. Again, a savvy blanc—albeit aromatic, does work well with light fare and seafood.

For those so interested: apart from the natural aromas and flavors of a particular grape, the aromatic qualities of the grape varietals can also be enhanced during vinificadion: Any vacation trip to a winery, you’ll quickly learn that the use of native yeast during the fermentation process is standard practice, but it’s crucial in the making of aromatic wines. That’s because the native yeasts release esters, which naturally enhance the wine aroma.

Cool temperatures help preserve the aromas’ freshness and unlock even more aromatics. Malolactic fermentation can decrease the acidity and dull the aroma notes, so it’s usually avoided in the making of aromatic wines; and ensuring the juice doesn’t come into contact with oak is essential since the oak flavors can mask the floral scents. Thus, your Chardonnay, although as fragrant as can be during fermentation, is “adjusted” to more a buttery feel when aged in oak.

So let’s see if you agree with the general aroma & flavor profile of your particular aromatic grape:

Riesling wine aroma notes: Honey, green apple, and lime; Riesling wine flavor notes: Apricot and nectarine fruit flavors.

Sauvignon Blanc wine aroma notes: Gooseberry, lemongrass, and basil; Sauv Blanc wine flavor notes: Gooseberry, citrus, and herbs.

Gewürztraminer wine aroma notes: Lychee, pink grapefruit, rose, and tangerine; Gevurst wine flavor notes: Grapefruit and ginger.

Muscat wine aroma notes: Grape, grapefruit, orange blossom, and honeysuckle; Muscat wine flavor notes: Mandarin and lemon.

Viognier wine aroma notes: Pine, thyme, chamomile, and lavender; Viognier wine flavor notes: Tangerine, honeysuckle, and peach.

Pinot Gris wine aroma notes: White nectarine, green apple, lemon, and lime fruit; Pinot Gris wine flavor notes: Spice and honey.

Torrontes (Tor-ron-TESS) wine aroma notes: Peach, rose petal, and geraniums; Torrontes wine flavor notes: Lemon zest and white peach.

So are you in—or are you out! Are you tasting these wines—or not!

And now, some recommended aromatic wines to chill-up for the season.

As we continue to write, the Pinot Grigio/Gris grape really takes on its own individual flavor profile depending on where in the world it is grown. The pinot grigio from Italy is quite different from the pinot gris from—let’s say Alsace, on the French German border.

So look: 2020 Hugel Pinto Gris Alsace Classic ($27). “A perfumed white, this entices with sweet blossoms and candied citrus underscored by savory wet flint and smoked thyme. Though veering into off-dry territory, this is balanced and fresh, with pronounced marzipan and blanched almond notes.” 90 points, Winespectator Magazine.

Talk about an aromatic wine, this pinot gris hits all the buttons!!

2022 Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough Te Muna (around $20). We’ve written on this high-end New Zealand wine before because it is so aromatic, and, the aromas meld into its palate. “Fleshy, fresh, mango, salted melton, white peach, litsea oil, and sage.” 93 points, Winespectator.

This Craggy Range is a wine to contemplate. Of course if goes great with seafood and light fare, but if you sample this wine by itself, you’ll think about the grape and how this wine was produced—fun stuff!

 2018 Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, Private Reserve Gewurztraminer ($25) “Light golden yellow. High intense aromatics, lychee, rosewater, ginger, lemongrass and pain d’épices. An intricate interwoven palate, very exotic and luxurious, with waxy, savory/sweet tastes and textures. This is wonderful full-on Gewürztraminer in all its exotic glory – a great interpretation of this classic variety.” 91 points, Club Enologique

Here’s to the sweet smell of success! Cheers!