My Question is: Which is the best wine aroma kit available?
I want to buy a wine aroma kit and am trying to decide between "le nez du vin" and the lesser known "aroma bar". I will buy the premium edition (complete set) of whichever one I go for. "Le nez" is tempting since it has a solid pedigree and many strong reviews, however its premium kit does not come with the wine fault scents whereas the other does. Can you help me decide? Thanks. Matt
Matt, the use of wine aroma kits can indeed boost your sensory training by helping you associate an aromatic perception with a descriptor. As you eluded to, there are many kits available on the market and at different price points. Rather than recommending one kit versus the other, let me offer you some thoughts on using wine aroma kits in general, which I hope will help you make the right decision for you.
I have added several resources on the topic of wine aroma kit.
Check out these articles on Wine Tasting Demystified:
Training with a wine aroma kit is the best way to enrich your vocabulary
Make your own wine aroma kit
My Review of the Red Wine Aroma Kit by Wine Awakenings
However here are some pointers:
Aroma quality: each flask contains an aromatic solution made of natural or synthetic aromatic compounds to evoke a specific aroma that you can perceive in wine. These solutions are usually made by flavorists, who like perfumers, blend scents to create new flavors. For example, one flavorist told me that the strawberry aroma can be made by blending six different chemical compounds.
Some of these aromas tend to smell very artificial or chemical; i.e. they rarely match the perceptions you have in wine. It may be due to the high concentration of the volatile compounds in the flask. One way to cope with that is to dilute one drop or two in a non aromatic white wine. This can help create a good aromatic reference; you can also use some blotting paper like the ones you find in perfumeries. I personally prefer smelling in a wine glass because it mimics what can happen in an actual wine tasting.
Buying tip: check the aromas for yourself; if possible participate in a tasting where the aroma kit is used or attend a wine show where vendors will exhibit their products. I would not buy without smelling but that might be a professional bias :-)
Aroma stability: some of these aromas can be very volatile (e.g. sulfury faults) and require proper storage to preserve the initial quality. This means you have to store these kits in a dark, dry and cool place. Don’t store them in your family fridge! as soon as you start using the kit, open and close the flasks, somehow the volatile compounds stick to the box and your fridge becomes stinky very fast. One solution is to store the individual flasks in an hermetic plastic box.
Size of the kit: I personally think it is more efficient for your training to create your own aroma standards with fresh produce or spices found in your kitchen-Check out “how to create your own wine aromas” on this website. However, some aromas are difficult to reproduce if you don’t have access to a chemistry lab, and that’s where the kits become handy. So I recommend looking at the aroma list offered in the kits and checking what you really need for your wine tasting training; this should allow you to invest for what you need and not to feel you have to go for the full expensive package.
My two cents...
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