2. Hot Cross Bun
Sweet baking spices
Is there anything better than the comforting, inimitable smell of a freshly toasted Hot Cross Bun? The heady aroma is a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. In the real deal, add the aroma of toasted bread - that joyous smell is the result of the ‘Maillard reaction’ where sugars become caramelised, plus melted butter and perhaps a slightly burnt sultana, when the sugary dried fruit meets the intense heat of the toaster.
The Maillard reaction plays a role in good quality bottle aged champagne, creating notes of caramel and burnt sugar. There is cane sugar added at the final stage of making traditional method sparkling, a process called the ‘dosage’ which balances the wine’s acidity and determines the final sweetness levels, Demi-Sec vs Extra Brut etc. as this sugar integrates it can undergo the Maillard reaction once the wine had been in bottle for many years.
As for the sweet baking spices, these are found in oaked wines. They tend not to be an aroma coming directly from the grape itself, but rather an interaction between grape and wood.
The oaky whites of Rioja, that are often slightly oxidative (exposed to controlled oxygenation which develops slightly nutty, umami notes) can have notes of nutmeg and cinnamon.
Spicy, clove and Star Anise notes can be found in bottle aged Chateauneuf du Pape.
Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre wines from the Southern Rhone can have clove notes.
Aged Loire Chenin can have gingery notes, melding with saffron and hay.