Wine + Perfume

A Fragrant Journey with Mandy Aftel

Artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel is a fragrance tour guide, guiding you on a scent journey through history, filled with cultural touchstones and alchemy.  The backdrop to the aromatic adventure is what Mandy calls the five “landmark scents” from around the world:  cinnamon, mint, frankincense, ambergris and jasmine. Fragrant:  The Secret Life of Scent is Mandy’s exploration into a world of mystery, power, medicinal practices and the pure pleasure of perfume.  The author, who is also the creative force behind Aftelier Perfumes writes, “Lands have been discovered and conquered for the sake of perfumed materials.”  According to Mandy, mankind has a common desire for the exotic, the familiar, transcendence, the curious and beauty.  As she writes, “Scent is a portal to these basic human appetites.” I spent time with Mandy one recent afternoon at her Arts & Crafts home in Berkeley, California that serves as her perfume atelier.  She embodies the eclectic,…

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…

A Nose for Wine at Morlet Family Vineyards

“These are my diplomas from Galimard.”  Luc Morlet and his wife Jodie proudly hold up not one, but two certificates he earned at the Galimard Perfume Factory in Grasse, France in 2008.  “I liked it so much I went back a second time,” he says.  For two days this Napa Valley winemaker learned the art of perfumery and blending fragrances at Galimard’s Studio des Fragrances.  Aromatics, you see, are a driving force in Morlet’s winemaking at Morlet Family Vineyards.  It shows in a wine he calls La Proportion Dorée. “The Golden Ratio,” as this wine is named, “is the concept of three, a pyramid with the Semillion being the strong base, then Sauvignon Blanc in the heart and the point is Muscadelle,” Luc says.  By the time Luc went to Galimard he had already developed this blend, but the reason for it made sense after he learned about how perfume…

4 Late Summer Reading Picks on Wine and Perfume

Margrit Mondavi_s Sketchbook_ Reflections on Wine, Food, Art, Family, Romance and Life_ Thomas Keller_ 9780615604947_ Amazon.com_ Books

Remember those days when you had a required summer reading list from school?  Yeah, those lists made reading a chore.  Now as adults, we lament that we have no time to read.  But we get to choose what we read.  There’s still time before the summer ends to pick up a book or two, especially when the subjects are wine or perfume.

In The Juice by Jay McInerney,  the Wall Street Journal wine columnist takes you on a journey through the world of wine.

Making Scents of Wine

Kelly Jones broke the cardinal rule of wine tasting.  She wore perfume on a visit to a Napa Valley winery.  “Who is wearing vanilla?” asked the winemaker pouring a glass of buttery, oaky Chardonnay for Kelly.  He explained to her why she shouldn’t have on perfume in the winery tasting room, that perfume interferes with the wine’s bouquet and aromas.  But Kelly thought that the vanilla in her perfume enhanced the vanilla notes in the Chardonnay.  She loved the sensory experience of how the wine and perfume co-mingled.

The winemaker did not kick her out, but Kelly was frustrated nonetheless.  “I want to wear perfume while I’m drinking wine, those are my two favorite things to do.”  Call it her “aha” moment, when she thought there might be more to pairing wine with perfume. She went home inspired to see if she could create fragrances that complemented wine.  “I’d been studying perfume for quite a while and I had my own scent studio.”  She went out and bought bottles of her favorite white and red wines.“One by one I sniffed and I sniffed and I went into my fragrance library and trying to find the notes that would actually celebrate what I was smelling in each glass.”

A Perfumer’s Take on Wine Aromas

I walk into an event room at Niner Wine Estates in Paso Robles, Ca, for a class in wine aromas expecting to see lots of wine bottles and glasses.  No such luck.  The only bottles are small vials set out on one table.  I’m thinking, ok this will be interesting.

The man seated at that table is Alexandre Schmitt.  He’s not a winemaker or an enologist.  Instead, Alexandre is a perfumer.  He calls himself a Creator of Perfumes and an Expert of Wine Aromas.  His goal is to help people working in the wine industry find a common language to express what they smell when they stick their nose in a glass.  All the vials that he brought are full of essential oils and flavored oils.

Instead of Cognac, Perfume

I came from a family of tuberose wearers, my mother wore tuberose, my grandmother wore tuberose, so I always knew I would make a tuberose perfume.

Kilian Hennessy is a modern perfumer. Memories of tuberose, an intensely fragrant white flower, aside, what’s striking is that Kilian’s family is the Hennessy family, as in Hennessy Cognac. Hennessy is known for a premium label Cognac. Not so much known for a tuberose fragrance. But Kilian Hennessy is hoping to make his perfume line, By Kilian, as well-known as his family’s Cognac label.Read more