Ask Eno: Sous Bois

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Dear Eno,

What does the wine term “sous bois” mean?

– Frank




Dear Frank,

Sous bois, pronounced “sue bwah,” is French for “undergrowth.”  It’s a description of aromas and flavors reminiscent of the earth, leaves, herbs, and bush or trees in a forest.  In english we typically would describe this aroma character as “forest floor.”  This tends to be used to describe the bouquet of red wines, especially red Burgundy, red Bordeauxs, and Barolos. 

A similar descriptor for many wines in southern France, Corsica, and Sardinia is “garrigue.”  Garrigue is the name of the vegetation that grows on the hills throughout the mediterranean.  Garrigue is a mix of rosemary, thyme, lavender, mint, and juniper among others.  

Fun Fact: Unlike sous bois, garrigue characters in a wine actually come from the garrigue plant’s esters released in the air near grape vines!  

Aubrie Talarico is part of Eno’s team that answers your toughest questions or curiosities about wine, beer, spirits, sake, and cider. Email questions to and read the answers in Eno’s E-newsletter!

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