Friday, 9 October 2009


I recently came across some comments regarding comparisons between wine and perfume on a web based forum – response is irresistible as my name and book on Artisan perfumery were mentioned. There are of course some obvious similarities between perfume and wine: like they both smell. Another similarity is that you can drink both too, but please don’t try this at home unless you’ve got grain or grape alcohol containing safe levels of naturals for internal consumption. Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder. Another similarity is that both are sold in bottles at rip off prices at airports.

Dumbing down is a peculiar phrase because it implies that the Dumber doing the downing is not dumb but downs deliberately to debase debate to a debacle. So the tendency to score wine for intensity in restaurants may help customers choose an unfamiliar wine, which is of course a good thing, but it also limits wine to one narrow linear dimension. The complexity of evolved secondary and tertiary aromas and flavours does not appear on this scale. Neither does the attack, mid palette and finish which in good wine lasts minutes. The balance of fruit, extraction, sugar, acidity, tannin, alcohol and body which make up the structure of a wine can also not be measured in numbers. The relationship between the bouquet and taste are very important and unless one has struggled to sell a painting for several weeks it is unlikely that Mother's Christmas perfume will get drunk.

In tasting terms, sensation plays a huge part and different parts of the mouth are equipped to measure these very sensitively without reference to the nose. Tannin has a mouth drying effect on the gums, acidity makes the sides of the tongue salivate, the heat of the alcohol discloses the strength and the mouth feel reveals the body or specific gravity. The overall harmony of all these provides the pleasure which can momentarily turn a diehard conservative into a bleeding heart liberal.

After two hours sleep which were interrupted by a call of no consequence from a ‘friend’ in the UK I’m hoping that coffee can rescue me from fascism.

NYC October 9th 2009.