Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Aroma kits

Le Nez, Courvoisier

The power of suggestion is, well, a powerful thing. If someone tells you to sniff for a certain aroma in any wine, chances are you're going to smell it, or convince yourself that you do. We got these kits at the Courvoisier Exclusif event (search for it on the top left corner), and our host used it in her cognac tasting presentation. Everyone sniffed the vials of extract, as the cognac bouquet was supposed to contain each aroma.

An interesting presentation, but do these kits really work? They sell the same thing for wine - dozens of vials, containing what are supposedly the most common aromas of every major grape varietal. I think this is symptomatic of a wine drinking culture that places the identification of specific aroma descriptors as the height of connoisseurship. That is a mistake. Identifying 12 different pantry ingredients in a perfectly good Chablis does an incredible injustice to wine. Wine isn't just a collection of independent aroma compounds, it's a complex drink that engages eyes, nose, and palate - reducing it to a cocktail of individual smells and tastes is a very one-dimensional way to experience wine. And yes, if you smell an incredibly extracted sample of any aroma, chances are your mind will convince you that that same smell is contained in the wine.

There has to be a better way to approach wine writing and how we talk about wine. Yeah, I'm working on it.


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