Make Your Own Wine Aroma KitA DIY Guide To Creating A Wine Aroma Kit At Home
June 11, 2010
An Introduction to Your Senses
Though smell and taste are deeply intertwined, it is your nose that ultimately determines the exact flavors of a food or drink. Imagine, for instance, how muted something tastes when you are stuffed up with a cold. The human tongue has only four flavor detectors: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter; in some parts of the world, a fifth flavor is identified as umami. The human nose, however, can sense more than 10,000 aromas. Think, then, of the tongue being a more tactile instrument, picking up the initial sensations of a food or drink, with your nasal cavity capturing all the different, aromatic intricacies.
In terms of wine evaluation, then, your sense of smell is of the utmost importance. While you can only determine a few actual tactile tastes from wine, there is an extremely broad range of aromas in each glass. Take, for example, the fact that more than 800 different aromatic compounds have been identified in wines. It is possibly the most aromatic complex, and diverse, food in the world.
When experts describe and evaluate wine, they will refer to aromas that range from delicious-sounding (like ripe plum) to utterly unappetizing (like barnyard). Though some of the descriptors may sound far-fetched from time to time, it’s not solely poetic license on the judge’s part. A multitude of chemical compounds are indeed responsible for these aromas. Some aromatic compounds come from the grapes; most, however, form during fermentation, and some develop as a wine matures. For example, diacetyl is an aromatic compound found in both butter and some white wines that have gone through malolatic fermentation. When you smell popcorn in your glass of California Chardonnay, then, you’re not going crazy – you’re just paying attention.
As you first begin to taste wine, you may not be able to identify the hundreds of aromas present in your glass. Understanding the complex characteristics of wine simply comes through time, and lots of tasting. Essentially, you need to hone your sensory memory bank, enabling yourself to quickly relate the subtle (and sometimes very strong) aromas in a glass of wine to scents you have smelled before.
Make Your Own Wine Aroma Kit: Getting Started
A helpful way to develop your wine-sniffing senses is to use a wine aroma kit. These, while incredibly useful, can be very expensive. A homemade wine aroma kit, combining simple wines with complex aromas, is an easy, inexpensive way to develop your sensory memory bank, without, well, breaking the bank. Once you’ve experienced certain aromatic compounds in neutral wines, you’ll be able to more easily recognize those scents in wines to come.
- One glass for each aroma standard (Two 750 ml bottles of wine will render enough for 20 to 24 aroma standards.)
- One bottle of an inexpensive, neutral white. (You can ask your local wine shop to help you choose a wine, but a good place to start would be with Pinot Grigio, Colombard, or Ugni Blanc.) A 750 ml bottle will be enough to make 10 to 12 aroma standards.
- One bottle of an inexpensive, neutral red. (Again, a call to your wine shop might be in order, but you can also try a Merlot or Gamay i.e., Beaujolais.)
- On each glass, place a small piece of masking tape or sticker marked with the glass’s corresponding aroma.
- Pour two ounces (about four tablespoons) of wine into each glass.
- Add the specific amount of each aroma (see list below) to the corresponding glass; let the addition soak for an hour, so it fully infuses its scent to the wine.
- Swirl, and then sniff, each glass of wine, familiarizing yourself with its aromas.
Lemon: A small piece of peel from a fresh lemon, and about one teaspoon of lemon juice
Grapefruit: A small piece of peel from a fresh grapefruit peel and about one teaspoon of grapefruit juice
Pineapple: About one teaspoon of pineapple juice
Melon: A small chunk of fresh, ripe cantaloupe
Peach: A small chunk of fresh, ripe peach (alternately, you could use one tablespoon of syrup from a can of peaches)
Pear: A small chunk of fresh, ripe pear (alternately, you could use one tablespoon of syrup from a can of pears)
Green grass: Three or four blades of green grass, crushed
Honey: One teaspoon of honey (you should stir to dissolve the honey in the wine)
Vanilla: A drop of vanilla extract
Nutmeg: A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (alternately, you could use a teaspoon of ground nutmeg)
Clove: Three whole cloves (alternately, you could use a teaspoon of ground cloves)
Red Wines: Aromas and Ingredients
Strawberry: Two crushed fresh, ripe (or even frozen strawberries)
Strawberry jam: About one teaspoon of strawberry jam (you should stir to dissolve the jam in the wine)
Cherry: Two crushed fresh,ripe cherries (alternately, you could use a tablespoon of juice from a can of cherries)
Mint: A crushed mint leaf (alternately, you could use about a teaspoon of mint extract)
Green Pepper: A few strips of green pepper, diced (about a quarter of a pepper)
Black Pepper: A few grains of black pepper, freshly ground
Chocolate: About one teaspoon of shaved chocolate or powdered cocoa
Coffee: A pinch of ground coffee (about 1/8 teaspoon)
Tobacco: A little pinch of pipe or cigarette tobacco
Vanilla: A drop of vanilla extract
Page last modified on Friday 25 of June, 2010 02:25:34 PM GMT