Aroma Kit Question

"From time to time, I see aroma kits advertised. Are these (at least in the commercial version) at all really useful to improve one’s nose or enjoyment of the wine experience?” Clayton in Portland

Many years ago, when I first started getting into wine, my mother bought me an aroma kit from a wine accessory magazine. I really loved it. It came with a range of scents like rose, lavender, mint, cedar, vanilla, cherry, lemon and orange. All the major aromas found in most wines were included. I sat there with my nose in those tiny vials for hours, challenging myself to identify the scent. They come with some sort of chart to tell you what is in each vial — as they are normally only marked with numbers. 

It can be a great way to fine-tune your nose, especially when used alongside wine, while making tasting notes along the way. 

Many of the kits include the following aromas: amber, apple, banana, butter, caramel, cat urine — yes, cat urine — chocolate, cinnamon, cork, fig, grapefruit, green bell pepper, honey, leather, lemon, mold, mushroom, peach, pepper, raspberry, sulfur, tea, tobacco and vanilla.

On the downside, they can make a dent in your pocketbook with prices ranging from $40 to $400, depending on how many aromas are included and what other materials are included in the package. There’s even one that costs more than $2,000 — it must come in a solid gold box…

In this day of DIY projects, there are ways to make your own. Find an aroma list similar to the one below online and buy the elements yourself. Buy fresh flowers, fresh and dried herbs, fruit (canned, fresh, dried, etc.), vanilla extract, cola … you get the point. Cut, pour, slice and open your bounty and place a sampling of each into its own wine glass. If you want to make the experience blind, cover the glass — just be careful it doesn’t have a scent itself.  A quick search engine quest of “DIY wine aroma kit” will provide you with a world of ideas to create your own aroma kit.

Practice is important but it will never make perfect when it comes to identifying all aromas. Practice often makes one more confident in the ability to analyze a wine, perhaps, helping you enjoy the experience more. 

Remember, wine is to be enjoyed, so don’t forget to occasionally put down the aromas and pick up the glass. Swirl, smell, smile, sip and simply enjoy.  —Cheers! Jenni Cossey

I look forward to receiving more of your questions.  Email me at to submit your questions and I’ll see you next month!  

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