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Wine Aroma Kits

I’ve used scent training in our winemaking programs for years. It’s a core part of our curriculum. However, I hadn’t planned on developing scent kits until 2020. I started by creating kits for people with anosmia, as scent therapy has proven effective for regaining the sense of smell. These kits were initially packaged to help our students recover when they contracted the original variant of COVID-19.

Soon after, while filming the online version of our Core Winemaker program, I began thinking about creating a series of scent kits to accompany our classes. After six months of development, we produced a series of scents perfect for training winemakers.

wine aroma kits

Key Aspects of a Wine Scent Kit

Build the Scents!

Developing a kit is more challenging than it seems. First, you need a scent lab capable of creating hundreds of different wine scents. Each scent requires at least ten compounds, necessitating a library of several thousand compounds.

For instance, creating the realistic smell of a Honeycrisp apple—a common scent in white wines—is complex. To achieve the “Apple” scent included in our “White Wine Aroma Kit,” I start with Ethyl Butyrate, Hexyl Acetate, and 2-Methylbutyl Acetate to evoke the apple scent. To perfect it, I add Ethyl Acetate to mimic ripeness. Then, I include 1-Hexanol and Trans-2-Hexenal to replicate green apple skin. Depending on the desired complexity, I might add Methional for an over-ripe apple note or Acetaldehyde and Hexyl Butyrate for a more intricate apple scent. Additionally, Benzyl Acetate can be added to evoke apple flowers, creating an orchard-like aroma.

A comprehensive wine aroma kit must include all common fruit scents and those unique to specific wine varietals, such as the grassy smell of Sauvignon Blanc and the ginger note of Viognier.

Chemical Accuracy

Aromas need to accurately represent wine scents and flavors. For example, the grassiness in Sauvignon Blanc isn’t a pure grass smell; it’s more like a wet, moldy pile of grass, due to 2-Methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine.

The creator of the scent kit must understand wine chemistry to know which compounds create specific wine scents. They also need the palate of a winemaker to recognize these scents and the skills of a perfumer to adapt them into liquid form. Without these skills, a scent kit is ineffective.

Why We Build Our Own Kits

We have always advised against using pre-built scent kits because major producers often lack an understanding of wine chemistry, resulting in inaccurate scents. When we started offering online winemaking courses, we needed a reliable solution. This led us to handcraft our own wine aroma kits to ensure quality control. Due to their expense, we don’t sell them on the open market.

Combined with Education

Scents alone are not enough. winemaking students need to learn how to identify scents in wine and what specific scents to look for. Wines have layers of flavors. The top notes can be delicious elements of fruit and oak, but it’s essential to notice the underlying scents to understand how a wine is produced. This is why our scent kits are paired with educational classes; without this instruction, the kits are useless.

Our kits have been highly successful and are now used across the USA. If you’re taking a winemaking program at a university or with the National Wine School, you’re likely using the wine scent kits we developed.

Types of Wine Aroma Kits

We offer a core set of wine aroma kits for winemaking programs and various others for specific certification courses and wine events.

  • Varietal Fingerprint Kit: The most widely used, part of the L2 Online Course, includes core varietal fingerprint scents for all major wine varietals.
  • Oak Barrel Flavors Kit: A personal favorite, focused on oak barrel aromas.
  • Red Wine Aroma Kit and White Wine Aroma Kit: Specific kits for red and white wine aromas.
  • Custom Aroma Kits for French Wine Regions: Including Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the Rhone Valley.

Pricing & Packaging of Our Aroma Kits

We use jewelry-quality boxes and perfumer-quality glassware for our kits. Depending on the kit, they are either numbered or color-coded. Each kit contains the essential 5-8 scents required for the class. We keep our wine aroma kits well-made and focused, charging one-quarter of what Nose du Vin or Aromamaster charges. We also sell our kits at cost, as they are part of a class.