THE SCIENCE OF WINE

DIY Experiments: Create Your OWN Aroma Kit

Aug 1, 2019

Ever wonder how wine professionals can discern aromas and flavors in wine with ease? Do they really smell leather, game, or flint? How? The answer is: YES, because they “train” their noses! 

If you’ve ever taken one of our classes, you already know that we swirl, sniff, and call out aromas before we’ve taken our first sips. It’s because there are naturally occurring chemical compounds in wine that produce these aromas that help enhance our appreciation for it. 

The way to get good at identifying wine aromas is to practice smelling them. Wine professionals often use wine aroma kits to do just that. But since these kits often cost $200+, which isn’t realistic for the average wine consumer, we’re here to show you how to make one at home for a fraction of the price with things you probably already have in your pantry or refrigerator.

What You’ll Need

For our kit, we rounded up 18 spices, herbs, and jams that typically show up in wine, plus some accessories:

Spices/Dried Herbs

  • Allspice
  • Bay Leaf
  • Cinnamon
  • Dill
  • Garlic (wine fault)
  • Nutmeg
  • Pepper (black)
  • Pepper (white)
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

 

Jams

  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Concord Grape
  • Mint
  • Orange
  • Peach
  • Raspberry 
  • Strawberry

 

Containers

  • Small, metal jars (10)
  • Small, glass jars (8)
  • Storage tray (1)

Once we gathered our ingredients, we put a teaspoon of each spice into a small, metal, air-tight container (we found ours online for $1 each) and a tablespoon of each jam into a mini, glass mason jar (ours cost $2 each at the supermarket). 

Note: In the photo above, we grouped our spices into broader wine aroma categories so you can see what we mean when we say a wine smells like “baking spices”, as opposed to “herbal notes” or “pepper”. You wouldn’t necessarily do this part at home.  🙂

After some simple labeling, we laid our containers in a tray ($10) for easy organization. (The jam jars actually went into the refrigerator after we took the below picture. We recommend you do the same.)

How to Use

Once your aroma kit is set up, congrats! You’re officially a true vinophile (aka: wine geek) who’s ready to take your smelling game to the next level. 

Here are the two ways we recommend using it:

  • Open container and sniff: seems straight forward, but it’s really easy to overwhelm your sense of smell this way (think perfume counter). Take 2-3 short sniffs to avoid becoming desensitized.  Also, keep a glass of wine nearby and sniff it in between the different aromas to keep your nose calibrated.

 

  • Infuse some of the herb/spice/jam in a glass of neutral tasting wine: this is probably the best method and is an excellent way to use the cheaper stuff (boxed wine is particularly great for this). 

 

  • Aromatics in the kit will degrade over time.  So, if aromas become too muted, it might be time to ‘refresh’ your kit with new components.

Questions or comments? Contact us at [email protected]. Cheers!