Breaking the Taboo of Wine and Perfume


For eons, perfume has been banned from any place where wine is being tasted, consumed, enjoyed.  As a wine professional, it is taboo for me to wear perfume to a trade tasting, a wine dinner or other wine related event.  The same goes for people working in the wine industry, whether they are working in the winery as a cellar rat, enologist, winemaker or pouring at the tasting bar.  Wine and perfume together…not allowed!  Forbidden.

Until now.

I’ve been on a mission to break the taboo of wine and perfume together.  As a Certified Sommelier, I love to pair wine with perfume.  Both are aromatic experiences.  In fact, without your sense of smell, wine (or any food or beverage) would not be as enjoyable, because your sense of taste really comes from your sense of smell.  The tongue can’t distinguish floral from spicy, but your nose can.

And, it’s that ability to distinguish scents and ultimately flavor, is why I use perfume as a tool for helping you learn to identify the different aromatics and aromas in a glass of wine.  Just like the perfect wine and food pairing, the right perfume and wine pairing can enhance your experience with that wine.

How do I do this? Come find out!  Domaine Carneros, a fabulous sparkling wine house in the Carneros district of Napa, is launching a series of perfume and wine pairing classes this summer, Making Scents of Wine.

035Domaine - with bottles

Eileen Crane is the distinguished winemaker at Domaine Carneros, and she and I will be leading a two hour class, taking you through the history of perfume and wine, and the common language the two share.  We’ll be tasting four Domaine Carneros wines, including the incredible Le Reve, paired with two different perfumes.  Each scent will highlight a different aromatic note in the wine.


I’ve partnered with artisan perfumer Sarah Horowitz Parfums to create the perfect pairings.  Sarah is an amazing perfumer and her scents are divine.  We had so much fun choosing the fragrances that either bring out fruit notes or make the yeasty, bready notes pop.  This is an incredible, unique experience, one sure to bring out your inner perfumista.

The first class is on Sunday, July 20, 2014 at the beautiful Domaine Carneros winery.  We’ll sniff terrific scents, sip bubbly and nosh on local cheese and charcuterie.  Plus you’ll be able to take samples of all of the Sarah Horowitz Parfums home with you so you can create your own wine and perfume pairings.  Come spend a few aromatic hours with us and discover wine in a brand new way.



  1. I am so happy to see you breaking with this “rule”. I am not able to attend as I will be traveling but maybe another time!

  2. mary Reply

    Thanks Mary – hope to see you at one of the other classes!

  3. I’m sure your wine and perfume pairings work well, because you know what you are doing. But the average customer who walks into a tasting room bathed in Youth Dew (that perfume should be banned; it’s disgusting) ruins the tasting for everyone in the room. I can ‘taste’ that perfume hours later, and I spend a lot of time trying to air out the room.

    Until more people are educated on this topic, I think the “no perfume with wine” rule should stand.

    • mary Reply

      Hi Jennifer,
      I totally agree with you. I’m not saying it’s OK to wear perfume to a wine tasting. I use perfume as an educational tool to help people discover the different aromatics in a glass of wine.
      In fact I was recently at a public seated tasting where the woman was wearing a perfume so strong I had to change seats. Pairing wine and perfume together should be done in an atmosphere where perfume is never sprayed into the room. Instead, I dip the scent strips into the fragrance, that works so much better.

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