The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2015

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Page 46 of 140

46  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2015 PAIRINGS F ragrance lovers rejoice. Whether you are a winemaker, sommelier or play another role in the wine industry, if you've been a closet perfume lover, it's time to come out. I know you are out there. Yes, you have permission to combine your passion for all things aromatic in wine and perfume. Natural perfumer Mandy Aftel led a standing-room only session on aromatics at the inaugural Sommelier Summit in April. "Wine is halfway between perfume and food," she said. "Alcohol is the medium for perfume and wine. There is crossover in that aromatized, locked-in-time, dipping-into-memory experience shared by perfume and wine." Both wine and perfume are alive. Both evolve out of the bottle. Of course I never say that it's ok to wear perfume while you are tasting wine—especially in a professional evaluation. But, fragrance can be a tool to help teach consumers how to pick out different aromatic notes in that glass of wine. Close your eyes; stick your nose in a glass. If you're smelling a barrel- fermented Chardonnay, perhaps you get lemon, pear and apple, along with vanilla notes. Perhaps you have a glass of Cabernet Franc in your hand. Try a floral violet-based fragrance, and those purple flower notes in Cab Franc seem to jump out of the glass. Switch it up to an herbal, green, fresh cologne and that pyrazine green bell pepper character pops. Equally important: fragrance and wine share a similar language. There's the top note. In wine, it's the bouquet when you take that initial sniff. With fragrance, it's the first thing you smell when you dab or spritz the scent on your skin. Typical top notes are citrus and fresh grassy, herbal notes. The middle note, or heart, follows the top note. Think mid-palate for wine. In perfume, middle notes are usually florals—rose, violet, jasmine and gardenia. Spices, wood aromas, leather and smoke are common base notes to both wine and perfume. These base notes are the wine's finish, aromas and flavors that linger, leaving the lasting impression. Perfume has texture, too. Iris fragrances (from orris root) are often powdery. A chalky, austere Chablis might be the perfect match here. Fresh perfumes often feel like salty ocean air. Match those fragrances with a Muscadet Sèvre et Main. When it comes to sparkling wine and bubbles, the perfume world talks about sparkling or shimmering scents, such as the uber-classic Chanel No. 5. Using perfume, a medium far more familiar and comfortable to people than wine, can show wine lovers how to build that all-important scent memory. Somms tell people to smell everything: from flowers to produce at the farmer's market to wet pavement after a rainstorm to the salty ocean breezes. It's easier when those scents come from a perfume bottle. Vials of natural perfume essences and scent strips from the aroma seminar during the Sommelier Summit at the Culinary Institute of America. Sommeliers learn a new approach to aromas in a seminar led by natural perfumer Mandy Aftel during the Sommelier Summit at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley. WHEN IT COMES TO WINE, PERFUME IS NO LONGER TABOO story and photos by Mary Orlin Common Scents

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