Wine and Perfume Tasting Doesn’t Make Good Scents

23 Mar

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.

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4 Responses to “Wine and Perfume Tasting Doesn’t Make Good Scents”

  1. Fat Nutrition Writer 03/31/2010 at 12:12 pm #

    Wow! This is really interesting! It makes total sense that heavy fragrances will affect your ability to taste wine, but why on earth would Self publish something that recommends mixing the two? Did you alert their editors?

  2. Jo Diaz 04/09/2010 at 1:41 pm #

    Dear Ms. Drinkwell,

    It just goes to show that the people who are publishing Self Magazine enjoy wine for the commodity benefits; i.e., something to slam down when the need arises.

    If this magazine had a regular wine writer connection, this would have been shot down, long before it left the “Bright Idea” office.

    • Ms. Drinkwell 04/09/2010 at 2:16 pm #

      You’re so right! It was a short front of the book item, so I wasn’t able to link to it in the post, but it read suspiciously like something that came directly from an unsolicited press release.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. Alyssa 06/07/2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Dear Ms. Drinkwell,
    1) Thank you for your comments. Candor and honest discourse on this subject are always greatly appreciated.
    2) I was 150% upfront with Self that overwhelming scents of perfume can of course stymie the wine tasting experience since it is 80% olfactory. I’m 150% with you there.

    That being said, in the same way that the truly awesome wine tasting aromatics kit “Le Nez du Vin” allows for you to taste some VERY potent smells, one after the another, while the wafts of the last might be in the room, forcing you to direct your attention to the new scent from the last in spite of its lingering presence.
    Moreover, it is also the human reality that you are not gonig to be tasting wine in a vacuum, where all other competing scents are absent. Finally, there are a multitude of truly subtle perfumes- so the Self Magazine interview was simply a thought experiment: if I HAD to pick a wine to pair with a certain scent, whether a perfume, aromatic appetizer, you name it, which would I pick?

    I completely understand your critique and welcome your feedback. I did however want to set the record straight that the idea of a perfume & wine party came from Self; I did my best to pick complimentary scents to those provided given the task at hand.

    Best regards,
    Alyssa

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