Herbaceous

Definition - What does Herbaceous mean?

Herbaceous is a tasting term used to describe the fresh-tasting notes of cut grass and herbs in a wine. Not to be confused with vegetal - which is the unpleasant stewed flavor or aroma of cooked vegetation - herbaceous is usually an attractive dimension in a wine.

Herbaceous qualities are usually found in slightly unripe Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Colombard, Petit/Gros Manseng and Cabernet Sauvignon. Full-bodied Rhône wines also commonly have herbaceous characteristics.

WineFrog explains Herbaceous

Herbaceous describes the smell of lawn, trimmed hedges, grass cuttings and more. The qualities included under the Herbaceous category are:
  • Aniseed
  • Basil
  • Black Pepper
  • Camphor
  • Chive
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Currant Leaf
  • Eucalyptus
  • Fennel
  • Gingerbread
  • Grassy
  • Lavender
  • Mint Peppermint
  • Oregano
  • Pine
  • Rosemary
  • Spearmint
  • Spicy
  • Stalky
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Tomato Leaf
  • White Pepper
Herbal aromas and flavors are derived from varietal characteristics or winemaking processes, such as harvesting under-ripened grapes or using aggressive extraction techniques. The characteristics can be a sign of under ripeness in a wine or an over-rigorous canopy.

When pairing an herbaceous wine, follow the usual pairing guides for that varietal. When done right, herbal qualities should be subtle and add a bit of depth; it isn’t supposed to be the predominant quality in a wine to which you pair a wine.
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