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Tasting Etiquette: Perfume and Wine Tasting

Imagine being outside, enjoying the fresh-air on a beautiful spring day. You take a deep breath to really take-in the fresh, clean air, when suddenly your nose is bombarded by a strong floral scent. The smell is so potent that you can almost taste it. You gasp for the fresh-air you were enjoying just moments earlier. When you recover, you look around for the source and realize that it is the woman standing next you, who seemingly dowsed herself in perfume. This same sort of nasal violation can happen in tasting rooms and really ruin the wine tasting experience.

Much of what we call “flavor” in wine comes from our sense of smell. To really get all of the flavors in a wine, you should really smell it before tasting. As you have probably noticed, when you are sick, food often seems bland. The dulled flavor sensation is because you cannot smell your food. The opposite happens when we are bombarded by an offensive smell while trying to enjoy wine. The smell, whether perfume or cologne, permeates the wine that we are tasting and changes the perceived flavor. For the person who is wearing a large amount of scent, as their nose becomes more acclimated to the smell, their sense of smell may diminish, causing the wine to lose some of it’s flavor.

If you don’t wine taste often, it can feel like a special occasion and it is often tempting to put on your “special occasion” scent. However, a good rule of thumb when you are going wine tasting, is to wear no perfume, cologne or scented lotion. Remembering this will help you enjoy your wine more effectively, not intrude on the experience of those around you and it’s simply good wine tasting etiquette.

Cheers!