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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I've been looking at these "wine essence" kits, which contain small bottles of common wine scents to aid in wine tasting. Some of these kits cost hundreds of dollars. For such a large investment, how long will the bottles last before the contents evaporate? Are these kits worth the price?

—Patrick, Gurnee, Ill.

Dear Patrick,

I've used the Le Nez du Vin ("the nose of wine") kits before, and I like them. I checked with the company, and they said that the kits are guaranteed for 10 years, after which they will deteriorate very slowly. The aromas are made chemically with things like molecules (eh, it's a science term); they do not contain any living particles, which gives them a long shelf life.

Speaking of molecules (science again), the aromas are closely related to the molecular composition of wine. For example, the taste of lemon in wine comes from citral, so citral is what's in the lemon bottle.

I agree the kits can be pricey, the extensive 54-aroma kit being the most expensive. But they have smaller kits: a red-wine version, a white-wine version and also a "new oak" and "faults" kit too. The producer also told me they are releasing a more affordable 24-aroma kit in time for the holidays.

—Dr. Vinny

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