We’ve been using Jean Lenoir’s wine aroma phial kit for nearly 16 years in our wine tasting events and would like to christen our blog with a super useful Le Nez du Vin review. The below gives you the insider information on the product, namely:
- What it’s all about
- Smaller versions of the kit
- Why we love it
- How it’s made
- How you use it
- How to look after it
- How long it lasts
- Where to buy it
Le Nez du Vin: What it’s all about
Le Nez du Vin (or the nose of wine) is a dictionary set of wine related aroma phials created by a Burgundian called Jean Lenoir in the early 1980’s. Jean recognised that people can often struggle to quickly recall scents used in wine-speak (e.g. tasting notes given on the back of wine bottles), or indeed be familiar with some aromas listed in these tasting notes in the first place (this Chardonnay smells of acacia and hawthorn etc). The kit was designed as a sensory reference tool to help describe these aromas, and the main version (known as the Masterkit) is made up of 54 small scent phials which are divided into the following categories:
- Citrus (lemon, grapefruit etc)
- Tropical (banana, pineapple etc)
- Fruits with pips (apple, quince etc)
- Red fruits (strawberry, raspberry etc)
- Stone fruits (peach, apricot etc)
- Dried fruits (prune etc)
- Floral (rose, hawthorn, acacia etc)
- Vegetable (green pepper, mushroom etc)
- Woody (cedar, pine etc)
- Leafy (blackcurrant bud etc)
- Spicy (cinnamon, clove etc)
The kit also contains some other helpful materials:
- (toast, roasted hazelnut etc)
Smaller versions of the kit
- A book which provides a wealth of information, including linking each aroma to wine varieties and styles, detailed information on each scent, and a further linking of the scents into what’s known as primary aromas (scents coming from the grapes themselves), secondary aromas (scents coming from the wine’s vinification) and tertiary aromas (scents coming from the wine’s maturation).
- Small flash cards on each scent which give you an abbreviated background to that aroma, and countries, regions and grape varieties it is most associated with.
There are a number of off-shoot mini versions which contain a selection of scents from the Masterkit - a 12 scent Red Wine Kit, a 12 scent White Wine Kit, a 24 scent Duo Kit (the red and white wine kit combined), and then a super tiny kit called (drum roll please) The Nose Knows Kit (containing just 6 scents).
Why we love it
We love this kit because it puts our language as wine communicators into context. When we say a wine has a quince-like aroma to us we completely recognise the person or people we say this to may not immediately be able to recall or perhaps be familiar with that particular scent (and the same regularly happens to us – no one can immediately recall the scent of all fruits, flowers etc). The kit shows you many well known wine related scents in a heartbeat.
The kit also encourages lots of conversation and discourse, as different people have different sensitivities to different scents. We don’t think this has much to do with nosing ability, it’s more to do with the scents people are exposed to (or are interested in, or enjoy) over the course of their lives.
How it’s made
The scents are either natural and synthetic compounds. Jean Lenoir are understandably quite cagey on how they make the kits but they say the split here is about 50/50. The synthesising of aromas is done for practical purposes – using natural saffron would be cost prohibitive for the kit for instance, also some natural aromas are not stable over the long term (strawberry and apricot to name two). Interestingly, we find guests identify the synthetic aromas just as well as the natural aromas in our wine tastings.
How you use it
It couldn’t be simpler. No dipping of litmus strips into solution. No pouring of liquid into a glass. Simply unscrew the cap and nose away.
How to look after it
Look after the kit well and it will reward you with many years of enjoyment.
- Make sure you number each lid with the number stickers provided in the kit. The aromas all have their numbers on their main glass bodies but it’s very easy to mix the aroma lids up.
- When using the kit, tell people not to dab the scents on their wrists or back of their hands (many do).
And when storing the kit
How long it lasts for
- Always put it back in its sleeve
- Store it upright
- Keep it away from radiators
- Keep it away from bright lights
Jean Lenoir guarantee the kit for 5 years and say the scents, when stored and handled with care, should last for 10 years. We’re happy to report that the kits we purchased nearly 16 years ago are still functioning well, with the exception of a few scents, where the scent has mainly become fainter over time.
Where to buy it
Well you can buy the kit directly from Jean Lenoir’s website, but at the time of writing the main kit was available cheaper on Amazon. If you can afford it, we recommend going for the Masterkit. The links below will take you to your countries Amazon store. For ease I’ve just listed the UK and US prices.
At the time of writing:
The Masterkit costs £249.99/$328.33. http://geni.us/masterkit
The White Wine Kit costs £64.50/$84.71 . http://geni.us/whitewinekit
The Red Wine Kit costs £70.98/$93.17. http://geni.us/redwinekit
The Duo Kit costs £135/$177.41. http://geni.us/duokit
The Nose Knows Kit costs £30.60/$40.21. http://geni.us/thenoseknows