My student asked me what she needs to do to become a sommelier. As I remembered, On some TV show, someone who was interested in wine had an aroma kit which was quite expensive and guessed its ingredient with eyes covered.
Is aroma kit needed to become a sommelier and to learn and develope wine senses?
Original Post
I've tried aroma kits, but don't feel as though they help much. A better, and less expensive, approach is to purchase a cheap non-aromatic jug white or red wine. Pour a couple ounces of the wine into each of several glasses. Add a little of the fruits, vegetables, spices, etc. that you want to learn to the various glasses. For example, add a small slice of peach or a couple drops of vanilla extract to a glass of generic cheap white wine. Let them set for a few minutes. Then practice sniffing the glasses -- first knowing what each contains, then randomly and blind -- to practice judging aromas. This exercise has helped my skills. Beyond that, tasting a lot of wines is the best skill builder.
I have never tried Le Nez, but have considered buying it. The same question was asked on e-bob and, for what it's worth, Robert Parker posted the following:

"Definitely worth buying....acquired the big set over 20 years ago...the essences are very pure and it is a fascinating product to enhance the recognition of smells....Highly Recommended"
quote:
Originally posted by Parstone:
I've tried aroma kits, but don't feel as though they help much. A better, and less expensive, approach is to purchase a cheap non-aromatic jug white or red wine. Pour a couple ounces of the wine into each of several glasses. Add a little of the fruits, vegetables, spices, etc. that you want to learn to the various glasses. For example, add a small slice of peach or a couple drops of vanilla extract to a glass of generic cheap white wine. Let them set for a few minutes. Then practice sniffing the glasses -- first knowing what each contains, then randomly and blind -- to practice judging aromas. This exercise has helped my skills. Beyond that, tasting a lot of wines is the best skill builder.


What do you do for wine flaws? Say Brett for example.
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
Nothing will replace experience actually smelling and drinking wine. Nothing.
PH

I've considered the 'kits' from time to time in the past. Agree wholeheartedly with you PH. Just pull the corks and let your nose and palate guide you. There are NO shortcuts. Wink
A big thing about the joys of wine is the conversation.
If your going to try to explain that your Sauternes smells of stewed pears, it's good to know what stewed pears smell like.

In that sense le Nez du Vin is useful as far as a little flacon of stewed pear aroma is available.

We use the little bottles in our wine course and this to the satisfaction of many, lectors and students alike.

As it often happens, I'm the odd one out. I think a lot of the essences of le Nez du Vin smell much to artificial and often much to middle of the road to be useful. Methink, if you want the scent of a lemon: slice on in half, crush a strawberry, smell your buttered sandwich and follow up your slowly decaying banana...
Here's another Gary V. link. Unlike the other one, I would recommend using this as inspiration to develop your palate. If you go and taste, and commit to memory the taste of cured Calabrese olives (for example), you'll be able to nail that flavor if you ever taste/smell it in a wine. Clicky! Scroll past the goob at the fireplace.
quote:
Originally posted by WEc:
quote:
Originally posted by Parstone:
I've tried aroma kits, but don't feel as though they help much. A better, and less expensive, approach is to purchase a cheap non-aromatic jug white or red wine. Pour a couple ounces of the wine into each of several glasses. Add a little of the fruits, vegetables, spices, etc. that you want to learn to the various glasses. For example, add a small slice of peach or a couple drops of vanilla extract to a glass of generic cheap white wine. Let them set for a few minutes. Then practice sniffing the glasses -- first knowing what each contains, then randomly and blind -- to practice judging aromas. This exercise has helped my skills. Beyond that, tasting a lot of wines is the best skill builder.


What do you do for wine flaws? Say Brett for example.


I suppose I could add a worn sock or some food well past the "best if used by" date, but I don't have a good answer. Any suggestions?
quote:
Originally posted by indybob:
If you go and taste, and commit to memory the taste of cured Calabrese olives (for example), you'll be able to nail that flavor if you ever taste/smell it in a wine.


This is true.

A while back (thanks to a suggestion from this forum, I believe) I picked up a jar of blackcurrant jam. I'd put that stuff on toast or bagels in the morning, and sometimes I'd slap it on a small piece of bread for a snack or dessert during the day.

Now, this was during a period when my GF and I were drinking pretty much nothing but white wines for a couple of months (it was a HOT summer here). So my nose had been given an extended break from reds. But one day I decided to try a glass of Lyeth Meritage.

Let me tell you, right off the bat that blackcurrant aroma hit me as plain as day. I didn't even have to think twice about it. I recognized it insantly, like you'd recognize a snippet of a well-known song on the radio. It was amazing. And kind of weird.

If I could afford to drop hundreds of dollars on Le Nez du Vin, I probably would. But I'm here to tell you that improvising your own version of it works pretty darn well too.

- Jeff
quote:
Originally posted by Parstone:
quote:
Originally posted by WEc:
quote:
Originally posted by Parstone:
I've tried aroma kits, but don't feel as though they help much. A better, and less expensive, approach is to purchase a cheap non-aromatic jug white or red wine. Pour a couple ounces of the wine into each of several glasses. Add a little of the fruits, vegetables, spices, etc. that you want to learn to the various glasses. For example, add a small slice of peach or a couple drops of vanilla extract to a glass of generic cheap white wine. Let them set for a few minutes. Then practice sniffing the glasses -- first knowing what each contains, then randomly and blind -- to practice judging aromas. This exercise has helped my skills. Beyond that, tasting a lot of wines is the best skill builder.


What do you do for wine flaws? Say Brett for example.


I suppose I could add a worn sock or some food well past the "best if used by" date, but I don't have a good answer. Any suggestions?


Well, what I can think of right now, you don't want to know... Big Grin

You could also think about what to do with Sauvignon Blanc! Razz
I think jams are probably the best way to go with the fruit flavors. I tried crushing up blackcurrants and it was hard to detect the actual blackcurrant odor.

Naked juice sells one that's pretty heavy on the black currants. That's the mental association I use.

I don't think it's all that important to list a whole bunch of fruits that you find in the wine. Some have a dominant one like how Brunello can have dominant cherry or cranberry and you can use that to pair with the right food. But if a wine has currants, plum, boysenberry, and raspberry, I just call that fruit. If it has a distinct berry taste, I just say berries.

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