Palate training: hoax or a good gift idea?

Anyone have any experience with Wine Sensory Kit - 54 Wine Aroma - Master Kit - Le Nez du Vin or another similar product?

Effective? Entertaining?


These kits help identify aromatic qualities only and come in a box of small vials. It is designed to distinguish between closely-related yet distinct characteristics. There is a smaller set that covers all of the faults you would likely come across in wine. That one is probably of more usefulness to a consumer as they don’t need to delve in to the nitty gritty a professional would require.

Super entertaining. Only for bouquet, as Doug said, though.

I admit time being prejudiced about this, but i can’t think of anybody who wouldn’t rather have a case of well-chosen $35/bottle wines.

I saw one of those in a Marshalls today. Pretty sure it was $13, but certainly no more than $30. Pretty sure it was the exact same one, too.

Would be a gift for my mom. Mom’s wine shopping mostly consists of saying “Do whatever you think best” in response to my “I’m buying this, do you want some?” e-mails, so I am hoping to get her something wine-related but not wine.



There are a few other kits out there so it may not have been the ‘Noise of Wine’ kit mentioned in the OP above. I know that Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, and Wine Enthusiast used to offer similar kits, but no where near as ‘extensive’ as the one mentioned.

It really is a wonderful way to train your senses aromatically - especially if you ‘don’t cheat and look at the cards’ :slight_smile:

And Brian - next time you are in there, take a pic and let’s have a look at what you spotted . . .


The kit actually can be useful, but only for identifying aromas in a tasting setting, I think–when tasting barolos from different communes and trying to distinguish differences, for example. Doesn’t sound your like mom is “there” yet, from what you say. IMHO, of course.

I’ve never really understood the use for these things.

Maaaaaay-be for a student in a wine program of some sort. I suppose these kits could work as something like flash cards for your nose. I guess if you have to write ad copy a lot they might keep you fresh.

One thing I noticed personally is that at some point in my experience, identifying particular notes wasn’t all that important. You get to know things by broader contexts because of your experience. I don’t need to ID the particular fruits to say “I’m smelling Pinot”. I ID it because it smells like Pinot.

Yep, I think you’re right. Maybe worth taking a $50 chance on, but not a $400 chance.

I like the kits. Its less about labeling aromas then it is about then sharping focus and developing more granularity in perception.

I have something similar that I got as a gift a couple of years ago. I think it’s fun, but I’m still absolutely AWFUL at picking out descriptors (which is the main reason I never write tasting notes). I’m not convinced this thing helped me at all.

Bianca Bosker wrote extensively about sensory training in her book “Cork Dork.” There’s a lot of science behind it, and there are ways to maximize the impact of the training. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m very tempted.


Kits can be useful, but I think it can be just as helpful (and often less expensive) to seek out the original products (or derivatives thereof) that are referenced in many tasting notes.

Prime example- when I first started tasting wine and bought my first 2 books (Parker’s Wine Buying Guide Edition 3 and Michael Broadbent’s late 70s edition of his vintage tasting book), I kept reading about cassis and had no idea what that really meant aside from the fact it was related to blackcurrants.

Went to the grocery store, and in the juice section found a bottle of “Nectar de Cassis” and bought it. By that point I had already had a few Bordeaux and CA Cabs. One taste of the fruit juice- and boom, I got it. $4, and I had a nice bottle of fruit juice that lasted me a couple of weeks.

I think the same practical approach can work when trying to get a handle on most descriptors used in tasting notes- except maybe Gilman’s. There, one needs a great deal of experience and personal observation. He still throws me for a loop on regular occasion- and I go searching!

I’ll occasionally do the same thing with any given fruit that I don’t eat often. I find that it helps.