With nose and tastebuds at the ready I took myself off to the Bistro du Vin wine and Miller Harris perfume pairing, a civilised evening hosted by the bistro in Clerkenwell. A group of stylish girls gathered at 6.30pm... we were handed deliciously crisp champagne and offered numerous tempting canapés: hot arancini balls, steak tartare and smoked salmon blinis. The evening was relaxed and friendly and was the perfect chance for me to chat to a few other bloggers and compare notes.
Having recently visited the Soho Bistro du Vin, it was intriguing to see this other branch of the chain. The decor here is sophisticated and smart, but also feels snug and comfortable, thanks to the warm lighting and plush sofa seats. After an enthusiastic welcome from the head sommelier Romain Audrerie and fragrance expert Robert Gorman from the Miller Harris team, we sat down for the tasting and smelling session. It was lovely to be at an event and learn about two luxuries that we all enjoy in ours lives; all the way through I felt very much like our needs were at the forefront of the discussion.
We were presented with six pairings, first a glass of wine and then an accompanying scent that had been picked for its similar qualities. Here are the selections we tried and tasted:
1) Scent: Noix de Tubereuse Wine: Verdejo, Rueda ,Spain
2) Scent : Figue Amere Wine : Pinot Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
3) Scent: Encens de Bois Wine: a special bottling, Chateau Musar, ‘Hochar&Fils’, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon HIM
4) Scent : Feuille de Tabac Wine : Fiano di Avellino, Campania, Italy
5) Scent: Vetiver Bourbon Wine: unique blend, Veneto – Corvina/Syrah from Allegrini
6) Scent: L’Air de Rien Wine: Vina Ardanza, La Rioja Alta, Northern Spain
Each fragrance and wine had been picked for their special character and matched to complement one another. I am no wine expert, but have been to tastings before... this selection was far superior to those I’ve tried previously. I have always preferred white, but at Bistro I truly began to understand the merits of good red wine - the colour, smell and different tones, where the vintage was made and how the climate and surroundings can affect the taste. I found as the presentation went on that I could gradually recognise the different flavours, some more obscure than others. The Verdejo, Rueda from Spain was particularly delicious with a light and slightly sweet taste, it was paired with a scent that had sensual tones of orris and amber, a mysterious and exotic smell with a girly sweetness. Of the reds I preferred the Vina Ardanza, La Rioja Alta - a rich mature red, with a rustic feel; this was matched with the L’Air de Rien a very individual smell that reminded me of incense.
The perfumes were all exquisite, high quality fragrances with real personality. It was very interesting to hear about how a perfume changes once it is on your skin, from the zingy initial top notes to the lasting base that stays with you for the whole day. Apparently scents are suited in relation to your skin tone, hair tone and even temperament. Miller Harris offer a bespoke service, for £8000 you can have your very own perfume made, including three days with Miller Harris creator, perfumer extraordinaire, Lyn Harris. This fragrance is then exclusively for you and cannot be created or sold to anyone else. One exception is the scent, L’Air de Rien (‘Air of Nothing’) made for icon Jane Birkin - this perfume has an eccentric but beautiful mix of flavours that has become one of Miller Harris’ most successful sellers. We tried it last and though I was initially shocked by the unconventional and nostalgic blend, after it settled on my skin I found it the most alluring.
With our new found knowledge, my friend and I left Bistro du Vin with lovely Miller Harris goodie bags on our arms... a really special and informative evening, I just feel sorry for those on the tube who must have been intoxicated after my excessive perfume sampling!