Smell is our most primitive sense that is connected with creativity, memory and emotions. It also impacts and directs the sense of taste by up to 80-90% and is the only sense triggering the strange moment of deja vu.
So, when a friend of mine decided to throw a fusion event of wine tasting and perfume sensing, I felt a contradiction and concurrence at the same time.
What do perfumes and wine have in common?
And her name is Joséphine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon I and the first Empress of the French. Also the first to revolutionize the state of scents and wines in Europe.
But before we start smelling, tasting and fusing, let’s agree upon the basics. One can register five basic taste categories which are sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. And also five basic smell categories: floral, nutty, spicy and fruity. Thus, all the other descriptive words about flavors and smells derive from literature, personal experiences or just lavish imagination and free set of mind.
In the very beginning of this occasion different scents were already circulating and changing the atmosphere. I must admit that the welcoming glass of champagne invited the spirit of Dionysus into the room, and then I thought, made a decision – let the scented wanderlust begin!
The selection of drinks and scents was nothing if not versatile:
We started with two scents Peche Cardinal by Parfums MDCI and Les Liquides Imaginaires Dom Rosa accompanied by 2006 Champagne Cuvée “Memory” AC, Veuve Doussot, France. The light woodiness of the drink, betrayed it’s content of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. Dom Rosa caught the attention with birch and light notes of rose, a very tender and feminine scent. And the sweetness of Peche was easy to register and understand for all of us.
Curators of the evening Kai and Brigitty agreed that one of the touchpoints between wines and perfumes is how one should store them: away from the sunlight, in the right setting with the right temperature – wines as perfumes open up within the warm air.
For a second course we had the combination of Olfactive Studio Ombre Indigo and 2012 Viognier “Verite” VDP d’Oc, Laurent Miquel, France. An interesting dialogue in between earthy honey-floral wine, and leathery scent of plums and papyrus. Here half of the participants fell in love with the scent and with Kai, after she stated that perfumes should be used everywhere.
And everyone was impressed after a power couple Nasomatto Narcotic V and 2013 Riesling “Scharzhofberger” VDP Grosse Lage, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, Germany marched into the room. There was no way back anymore. This aromatic, juicy and and simply beautiful Riesling added electricity to the scent that was inspired by the Brazilian flower called Monguba.
Things got only better after that. Olfactive Studio Chambre Noire and my beloved 2009 Barbaresco “Asij” DOCG Piemonte, Ceretto, Italy added another level to this cozy symposium. The scent of Chambre Noire was inspired by the wine, it is a cold and calm scent with sophisticated concentration on pine-needles and saffron. A perfect complement to the taste of grown-up Nebbiolo. Convincing conversation in between those two!
We were impressed and Kai’s unapologetic style of curating the products was one of a kind. While she was mentioning the must-do smell-terrors, we moved on to rich and spicy levels. The combination of world’s best sandalwood blend in Corso Como 10 Corso Como ingredients with silky and playful 2012 “Platinum Latitude” Stellenbosch, Lyngrove, South Africa was positively surprising.
And for the last two ones, we wrestled with the heavyweight originals. Elegant layers of rich and oily O’Hira by Stephane Humbert Lucas 777 and Cognac ABK6 XO Single Estate “Family Reserve”, Domaines Francis Abecassis, France was a testament of the drink-making with a real winemaker’s approach – single estate. Once again a splendid combination!
Last but not least, and definite winners were madame Mona di Orio Les Nombres d’Or Eau Absolue and monsieur Liquore di Limoni di Sicilia, Limonio, Italy. A smell of honey, a peel of lemon, traditional lemon tart… Not powdery but a bit dusty, a time-kissed scent. And the terrific taste of this wonderful limoncello with a spicy reverence at the end was The Great End.
My conclusion? Simply, things that appeal to the mouth appeal to the nose as well, and vice-a-versa. And as a scent can unwrap the story of a person wearing it, just as the clothing, so as the choice of a drink can tell some. These two are more creative and subconscious forms of communication… or maybe even tools of persuasion?
There’s a story in every bottle.
In vino veritas = In perfume veritas
PS – This epiqurean night was followed by the private sparkling hour (or two), giving each one of us ideas and thoughts for the future… And I Thank You!
Written by Julia Ahtijainen
Photography by Ardo Kaljuvee