I recently purchased a kit called “Le Nez Du Vin” that professes to teach me how to identify various aromas in a glass of wine. The kit, which is imported from France, comes in a dictionary-sized case covered in red fabric so that it resembles an old book. Inside are a dozen tiny glass vials, each of which is redolent of a specific, essential red-wine scent when uncapped. These vials are cosseted in crushed velvet (or likely velour). It was purchased at Williams-Sonoma. It cost $130. Go ahead: Roll your eyes; chuckle derisively; whatever you have to do. I’ll wait until you finish. OK, finished? The “Le Nez Du Vin” kit contains two slim manuals both written by Jean Lenoir, a French wine critic who over 25 years ago developed this method of wine education by way of aromas. In the first book, Lenoir lays out his methodology, explaining the primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas in wine. He talks about fruity notes like black currant and cherry, floral notes like rose and violet, vegetal notes like green pepper and truffle, roasted notes like smoke and dark chocolate, and animal notes like leather and musk. He explains how the sense of smell works and how it relates to the “art” of wine tasting.
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