I haven’t worn perfume in eight years. Eight years represents the tenure of my wine career to date, and none of my current or former employers have allowed me to wear perfume or scented body lotion. One even called me out when I changed my shampoo to a brand that was more strongly scented than its predecessor. Despite the fact that it sounds a little nuts, this perfume ban is not unreasonable. Why? Because perfume and wine do not mix. A person’s sense of taste is heavily informed by her sense of smell, which is why when you have a cold, your favorite foods taste bland — because you can’t smell them.
A few days ago, I was flipping through the current edition of Self magazine, and what should I find on page 30, but a short article entitled “Wine and Perfume Party,” which instructs readers in how to set up a party where guests alternate smelling and sipping wine with spritzing and smelling different popular perfumes. The idea carries an endorsement from “wine pro and founder of BottleNotes.com,” Alyssa Rapp, who says that “sniffing fragrances that complement the wines you’re tasting can enhance your appreciation of both.” Wrong. What’s actually going to happen is that the Sauvignon Blanc you sip will taste like a mouthfull of Chanel No. 5, which will likely ruin your appreciation of both.
By all means invite your girlfriends over for a perfume party, and drink wine if you want, but stick to evaluating the fragrances only and save the wine tasting for another time.