elBulli - Creativity
Aroma Science
Molecular harmonies
12 May 2022 -


Dark chocolate is strongly marked by aromas resulting from Maillard reactions (generated by cooking food). Its aromatic profile is very similar to that of barrel-aged wines, maple syrup, coffee and grilled/roasted foods. Aromatic compounds such as pyrazines (wet earth/vegetable aroma), furaneol, and other aromatic compounds are also added.

21 Apr 2022 -


The Albariño grape, a noble white grape variety from the Spanish appellation Rías Baixas, located on the west coast of Galicia, produces dry wines often marked by a strong minerality, close relatives of the terpenic aromatic profile of Alsatian and Germanic wines. This minerality also gives it a resemblance to some un-oaked Chablis (chardonnay) and Sancerre (Sauvignon blanc).

14 Apr 2022 -


Like the capsaicin in hot peppers, wasabi has an active molecule (gluconasturtine) with a spicy taste that is also found in horseradish. It is this sulphurous molecule that gives the impression of fire in the mouth. When the wasabi root is crushed, an enzymatic reaction takes place, which gives it this typical taste. Once the fire is extinguished (very quickly), the wasabi produces a “cold taste”, like mint.

07 Apr 2022 -


Green asparagus has long been regarded as one of the enemies of wine. It is time to make amends! In its aromatic structure, when steamed, it contains aromatic compounds from the same family as Sauvignon blanc. And if grilled, sautéed or roasted, it develops aromas from the barrel-aged wine family, starting with Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.

07 Mar 2022 -


When overripe and darkened, it expresses itself through aromas of the same family as vanilla, honey, rum and coffee. On the other hand, when it is ripe, still yellow, it develops aromas reminiscent of cloves and parsnips. In fact, did you know that parsnips cooked with cloves develop banana aromas?

19 Feb 2022 -


Parsnips, like turnips and other root vegetables, are one of the foods with an aniseed flavour. This also makes it an ingredient that goes well with Sauvignon blanc and other aniseed-flavoured wines and liquids. But its aromatic path does not stop there, as parsnips also share a profile with bananas, which, when ripe and yellow, develop aromas reminiscent of cloves and parsnips.


Soya (Sprouts)

Being dominated by aromatic compounds from the pyrazine world, sprouted soybeans are linked to the aromas found in shrimp, potatoes, peanuts and sesame oil, as well as in sherry wines, some champagnes and rosé wines.



In almost all oyster varieties from cold waters, such as Brittany and Normandy, in addition to their mineral, more or less iodised and fresh almond flavours, there is also a slightly vegetal, lettuce and seaweed flavour, in contrast to other varieties which are characterised by flavours reminiscent of cucumber and melon.

14 Jan 2022 -


Chamomile is a great ingredient in cooking, useful for poaching or flavouring fish and steamed vegetables. It is rich in coumarin, a potent aromatic compound that resembles dried hay and nuts, also dominant in tonka beans.

13 Jan 2022 -


I have gathered here two families of cured hams. On the one hand, Spanish hams: Serrano and Iberian hams (pata negra), which develop aromas of fungi and terpenes due to the external mould produced during curing; and on the other hand, Italian hams: prosciutto and San Daniele – in addition to the French Bayonne ham – which are marked by fruitier compounds (esters, aldehydes and lactones).

12 Jan 2022 -


Grapefruit, whether yellow, pink or even Southeast Asian, has a profile dominated by two major families of aromatic compounds (thiols & terpenes) found in some foods and beverages, making it a complementary ingredient. And remember: it goes great with wines and beers at the table.

11 Jan 2022 -

Grenoble walnut

A little basic chemistry to better understand the origins of a succulent trio. Caramel aromas (marked by an aldehyde, close to vanilla) have hooked atoms like those of Grenoble walnut and vanilla. This is why it is so well matched with its two dessert partners, but also with wines marked by these aromas, especially madeiras and ports, as well as very ripe rivesaltes and sauternes.


Cava = Versatility

As in the case of champagnes, the excellent white sparkling wines of the Cava appellation favour magnificent harmonious inspirations at the table. Their aromas of almond, pear and apple, with a hint of citrus, set the pace for food and drink pairings and cocktails.

12 Dec 2021 -


Once cooked, the artichoke is dominated by an aromatic compound (1 -hexen-3 -one-), which also contributes to the aromatic profile of raspberry, honey, lime, butter and cooked milk. In fact, artichoke is marked by more than 48 organic compounds, including coumarin, with the tonka bean odour, as well as some furans, phenols and other aldehydes.

06 Dec 2021 -


The volatile compounds in blue cheese reveal aromas of butter, spice, spiciness, fruit, meat, flowers, coffee and cocoa. There are also fatty acids, such as glutamate (part of the fifth taste: umami), that support the whole, providing a richness of flavour and expressiveness in the mouth.

29 Nov 2021 -


Laurel is marked, above all, by aromas of the terpene family, the same ones that characterize the aromatic profile of rosemary and eucalyptus, as well as Riesling wines, Cabernet Sauvignon reds from Australia, California and Chile, and Chilean Carmenère reds. It is also rich in eugenol, the dominant aromatic compound in cloves. In addition, it can sometimes give off aromas of vanilla and nutmeg.

25 Nov 2021 -


Like roasted sesame, roasted red pepper shares aromatic compounds (dimethyl pyrazines) with all roasted and grilled foods, as well as sharing aromas with wines and spirits aged in oak barrels. The synergy in this case is very strong, because in addition to the aromatic link between the roasted pepper and the toasted barrel, there is also an osmosis between the pyrazines in the oak and those in the raw or roasted red (and green) pepper.

17 Nov 2021 -

Sweet Potato: Colorful

Aromatically related to the butternut squash, the sweet potato derives some of its aromatic organic compounds from its colour pigments (carotenoids), which are echoed in other foods such as saffron and chili pepper, as well as in rosé and chardonnay white wines.

15 Nov 2021 -

PEAR: Creative fruit

You can easily have fun in the kitchen by adding ingredients that share the same dominant volatile compounds, such as fresh fig, honey, cinnamon, thyme and liquorice, to your pear recipes. Many sweet white wines will also echo the pear in their similar aromatic structure, and Beaujolais Nouveau is a perfect match for the pear’s banana profile.

28 Oct 2021 -

MUSHROOM: Coconuts, Lavender, …

The relationship between the coconut and the mushroom, like that between the hazelnut and the dried bonito, does not seem obvious, but they are made for each other. As a curiosity, the world’s leading producer of this mushroom is… China! Finally, it is worth noting that this mushroom has a close aromatic link with lavender.



Mexicans are great consumers of hibiscus flowers. They make a refreshing water, called “agua de Jamaica”, with an infusion of dried flowers in boiling water and sugar, and filtered before putting it in the refrigerator. This floral or fruity water is ideal for making cocktails and desserts. A delicious hibiscus syrup (Wild Hibiscus Flower) is also commercialized.



The pea is to be glorified! To do so, just follow the trail of umami, which gives it volume and texture in the mouth. Some umami foods (spinach, dark beer, black liquorice, etc.) are also rich in saponin, a molecule with a very stable emulsifying power that allows them to form foams.

12 Oct 2021 -


Mustard shares two of its main aromatic compounds with wasabi and horseradish, but it is also dominated by Estragol, an aromatic compound with a “cold taste”, which also marks the profile of tarragon and green apple. When roasted, mustard seeds lose their pungent flavor and become milder, with a nutty flavor and mild bitterness. Mustard is also used in the composition of vadouvan, a blend of Indian spices with cumin, fenugreek, turmeric, pepper, onion, shallot and garlic.

04 Oct 2021 -


The aromatic identity of beet comes from traces of eugenol, which has a clove-like odor, geosmin, which has a damp earthy odor (see “Petrichor” ), and pyrazines, which have a vegetal/grassy aroma. The latter are also found in the profile of Cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc wines. That earthy, slightly bitter touch of red beet also goes hand in hand with red wines with marked tannins.

27 Sep 2021 -


The fragrant basmati rice accumulate a high percentage of aromatic compounds (twelve times more than conventional white rice). It release powerful toasted aromas of popcorn, toasted nuts, and bread crust, as well as floral aromas, thanks to the presence of linalool, a terpene compound with a very floral (lily-of-the-valley, lavender), but also fruity and spicy smell.

20 Sep 2021 -

DUCK: An aromatic fat

Thanks to its diet and the way it is cooked, duck develops natural aromas that move in the sphere of flowers, wood, grill and vegetables. In fact, its fat is a great “carrier of aromas”. There are many ways to achieve aromatic harmony both in the dish itself and between the dish and the glass.

10 Sep 2021 -


Leek is distinguished by one of its dominant aromatic compounds, diacetyl, which links it to ingredients containing the same compound, such as cheese, chocolate, lavender and certain wines, including fino and white wines from warm countries aged on lees, as well as tea and Scotch whisky. So there are many ways to have fun in the kitchen by transforming recipes with leeks.

07 Sep 2021 -


Due to its complex aromas (woody, caramelised, fruity, sulphurous, and terpenic), mango creates strong aromatic synergies with a wide range of ingredients, ranging from green and pink pepper to pink grapefruit, potent gin, highly perfumed sage, and surprising cannabis.

30 Aug 2021 -

ROASTED CHICKEN: A roasted world

Its roasted, and therefore grilled and roasted aromas, share dominant aromatic compounds with both grilled foods subjected to roasting, as well as coffee and dark chocolate. Roast chicken is also found in the same aromatic world as wines and spirits aged in oak barrels.

25 Aug 2021 -

FRESH FIG: A very floral fruit

Fresh figs are particularly marked by the aromatic fingerprint of linalool, a molecule with floral (lavender/lily) and fruity (citrus) aromas/scents.

28 Jun 2021 -


Whether it’s meat, fish or vegetables, green coffee, cocoa beans, maple water or oak barrels, the combustion of these ingredients generates a multitude of new aromatic compounds. For example, the aroma molecules in oak-aged wines and spirits are the same as those in foods cooked on the grill or roasted in the oven.

11 Jun 2021 -

Mussels: the tree of the sea

The mussel lends itself to a thousand recipes, it is well known, and it loves French fries – and so do the Belgians (!). But there are several other possibilities with the ingredients below, not to mention the fact that, when it is a bit iodized, this flavour can be magnified by cooking it with foods rich in pinene, which has the power to sublimate iodine. This is the case with saffron, thyme and young cedar shoots reduced to powder.

07 Jun 2021 -

TOMATO: Like a flower

Only about fifteen of the 400 or so aromatic organic compounds that make up the hundred or so varieties of tomatoes are actually perceived by humans. Moreover, its aromatic structure with green and vegetal notes gives the tomato a profile similar to that of sauvignon blanc wine. But if you reinforce its floral note (which it also contains) by cooking it with rose or violet water, raspberries or lychees, all of which are ingredients rich in floral molecules, then you should serve a very floral white gewurztraminer wine.

30 May 2021 -

IBERIAN HAMS: A range of flavours

The great family of Spanish hams, to which the Serrano and the Iberian belong, develop aromas of mushroom and terpene aromas due to the external molds produced during aging.

21 May 2021 -


Raw coconut, like its milk, is rich in lactones (a family of aromatic compounds). When roasted, it is marked by the world of pyrazines (compounds found in roasted foods and barrel-aged wines). During the Second World War, due to a shortage of serum, the wounded were put on a coconut water solution. This is because it has the same electrolyte as human blood. This led me from coconut to pig’s blood…. So to black pudding!

13 May 2021 -


Saviez vous que le composé aromatique dominant du concombre est le même que celui que l’on retrouve dans le gin britannique Hendrick’s ? Il faut avoir essayé un martini au Hendrick’s et au concombre pour comprendre à quel point cette synergie est belle et prenante, ce qui est aussi le cas avec la tequila.

07 May 2021 -


High-fermentation beers, which can be high in alcohol content, contain compounds that play a role in the same aroma world as oak-aged wines and barbecued foods. This is because maltol (a burnt sugar smell), an organic compound found in oak and some foods, including malted barley, is formed when the malt in beers is roasted and the inside of oak barrels are burnt.

03 May 2021 -


Due to its color pigments, rich in carotenoids, shrimp enters into aromatic synergy with, among others, ingredients and liquids rich in aromatic compounds generated by the carotenoid precursors of aromas, and with those dominated by the pyrazine universe – which also sign its profile.

27 Apr 2021 -


Like the apricot, the peach’s aromatic profile is part of the large family of lactones, the aromatic compounds found in wines aged in oak barrels, particularly Roussanne wines, as well as in spirits that have been aged in wood, such as Scotch.

16 Apr 2021 -


This classic Italian fresh cheese shares part of its flavour profile with cloves, opening the door to a lot of foods rich in the same dominant compound (eugenol), including mango, Thai basil, Roquefort and grilled or roasted asparagus, as well as wines and other beverages aged in oak or with a similar profile.

09 Apr 2021 -

Cinnamon: The enhancer

Cinnamon, used sparingly, becomes a flavour enhancer, amplifying other flavours, just as sherry and umami do. Used “subtly” it will give presence to your dishes.

02 Apr 2021 -

BLUEBERRIES: aromatic diversity!

Blueberries are amazing because their aromatic compounds open up numerous possibilities for aromatic harmonies.

12 Mar 2021 -


Many brands of gin have a singular style, while having an identical aromatic base.

08 Mar 2021 -


In Mexican kitchens, it is classically associated with fresh coriander, and rightly so, as it is dominated, among other things, by aniseed aromatic compounds.

06 Mar 2021 -

Applying aromatic science of molecular harmony for wine pairing

In a chapter of the book Tastebuds and Molecules, which explains the aromatic science created by François Chartier, there is a concrete example of molecular harmonies offered during a meal proposed by Chartier, oenologist Pascal Chatonnet and chef Stéphane Modat. After a tasting of a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Château Beaucastel 2006, notes of honey (phenylacetaldehyde) and apricot/peach (lactones) emerged as the dominant molecules (aromas).

27 Feb 2021 -

Comparing Varietals: Spanish Monastrell VS Provencal Mourvedre

Spanish Monastrell and Provençal Mourvedre: a single grape varietal certainly, but more often than not, tastes at the opposite ends of the spectrum! We are “comparing varietals” to better understand the differences in taste between wines made from the same grape variety, depending on whether it comes from its native terroir or grown in a different climate.

12 Feb 2021 -


Among the 12 dominant aromatic compounds in celery is apigenin, a polyphenol, also dominant in parsley, which induces a “cold taste” on the taste buds, as do the menthol in mint and estragol in tarragon and green apple.

05 Feb 2021 -


Toasted or roasted, it develops new aromas that allow new aromatic harmonies with all foods in the world of toasted/roasted.

29 Jan 2021 -


Some of the volatile sulphur compounds that sign the aromatic profile of the large cabbage family, including Brussels sprouts, are of the same type as those that define the aromatic DNA of the truffle. This explains the countless recipes where cabbages are married to truffles. Its volatile compounds, the thiols, also give the aromatic signature of sauvignon blanc, colombard and petit-manseng wines.

22 Jan 2021 -


The red apple owes its color to anthocyanins. These same pigments, which give color to grapes and red wines, are the source of a plethora of aromas that sign the aromatic DNA of apples, including a floral tonality that binds the red apple to lychee and rosewater, as to gewürztraminer wines.

12 Dec 2020 -

Rosemary: A Southerner with a northern terpene profile

In this chapter, you will discover the heart of my harmonic research, specifically on the trail of the sunny and woody aromas of rosemary and wines, which, more than ever, should be in perfect harmony with this iconic Mediterranean herb.