(stay tuned for a promo code at the end of this article)
Recently I attended a blind wine tasting. If you haven’t experienced this, I highly recommend this fun and educational adventure. Each participant receives a sheet of paper to record their notes on different categories: Aroma, Taste, Acidity, Viscosity, Color, etc. I found again and again I was struggling with the Aroma section. My dominant nostril was failing me! Finally, in keeping with my true self, I started making things up. My partner was unwilling to share his notes so I improvised. “I’m detecting fresh cut grass!” (that was a real answer, folks). Fortunately I wasn’t completely off on most and skated by undetected. It got me thinking however, how do we increase our senses? Often I found I recognized the aroma but could not put a name to it. Is there anything out there to help those of us with a hopeless nose? It may be time to consider an Aroma Kit.
S is for Sniff. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, we need to consider our five S’s when tasting wine: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, and Savor. An integral part of the process is the sniff, or the aromas we perceive in our wine. The purpose of an Aroma Kit is to enhance our detection of different scents and train our senses to pick up those aromas more readily. Most commonly they are used by sommeliers looking to increase their palate, but they can be useful for the novice wine enthusiast as well.
What’s in a Kit? A typical Aroma kit can contain anywhere from 12 to 100 vials of scents. These are blended together using natural and synthetic aromatic compounds we are likely to find in Red wine, White wine, and Champagne. Considering wine takes on the characteristics of the elements around it there are a wide variety of aromas we can detect. The larger kits have categories like Fruit, Floral, Vegetal, and even Barrel scents, with vials such as Citrus, Prune, Vanilla, Butter, and even Cut Grass (see guys, I totally knew what I was talking about!)
At times, when a bottle has “turned” we often can detect that something is a little off by the first sniff. These aromas, called Fault aromas, are included as well. These can include such things as Vinegar, Sulfur, or Rotten Apple.
Which Kit is right for me? There are some great companies out there to choose from. Le Nez du Vin is highly praised by sommeliers. In addition to several levels of wine kits, they carry kits for coffee and whisky. The creator, John Lenoir, describes learning wine to learning a foreign language and created his kit to be a “dictionary for wine lovers”. I grew up with a master kit from Le Nez du Vin (that’s right I grew up with a wine kit. Abnormal childhoods make for fascinating adults everyone) so I’m slightly partial to their traditional style. However they are far from being the only fish in the sea. Aromaster has kits for Wine, Cognac, Beer, Whiskey, Sake, Coffee, and Cigars. Their master kit comes with over 88 vials, and a board game with metal tokens and everything (I’m wine geeking out hard over this kit). Wine Awakenings has an extensive line as well and websites like Wine Folly and Wine Spectator even have instructions for a “Make Your Own” Kit if you are feeling really adventurous!
Whatever the kit, training our senses can help us to improve our senses, our palate, and our overall wine tasting experience. This Pearl is adding it to her collection for sure. Happy sniffing everyone!
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