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Roses and the Senses - Smell & Taste
May 4, 2008
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet - the quote from Shakespeare makes the assumption that all roses have a sweet smell, but we in the floral industry know that the majority of roses we use have very little fragrance.

In fact, some roses today due to treatment prior to shipping smell very much of chemicals rather than the beautiful smell our customers would prefer to sniff.

At Peterkort Roses we are very interested in increasing our ability to bring back scent. Also it is fun to analyze scent in roses!

Please note that we do NOT dip our roses in fungicide or any other chemical treatment! This allows the natural fragrance to emerge.


This pyramid is courtesy of Delbard Roses, a French rose breeder. In their analysis, rose scent consists of "Notes de tetes" - head notes or top notes - such as citrus, or aromatics - anise, lavender, thyme.

Then below are "Notes de coeur" - the main heart of the scent, such as flower scents, "green" scents (leaves, grass, herbs), Fruits, and Spices (ginger, cinnamon, patchouli).

Finally come the "Notes de fond" Base notes, which are woodsy and Balsamic scents. Woodsy include mushroom, cedar, and balsamics include vanilla, and heliotrope.

If you'd like to learn more about roses and the five senses (with an interesting discourse about the five senses in tasting an apple), go to www.delbard.com and search for "Pedagogie des 5 sens".


Here is a picture of Ann Noble, wine expert from the University of California at Davis, in the UC Davis wine cellar. They have a very good oenology program for future winemakers.

Dr. Noble has made it her specialty to explore the aromas in wine, and she has produced a famous Wine Aroma Wheel that includes 90 distinct scents.

Last summer an article in the Oregonian described her experience in applying her famous nose to farmer's market tomatoes. She had a tough time.

She cut up the different tomatoes and put them into wine glasses, covering them each with a clear plastic tray. Apparently this is how she works on wine scents in her research.

She had difficulty with tomatoes because their scents are not as variable as the scents in wine.

According to The Nibble (www.thenibble.com), there are 12 different categories of scent for wine. Here they are:

Animal aromas

Caramel Aromas









Vegetal and Herbaceous

and Woody.

I don't know if these correspond with Ann Noble's wine tasting wheel because I gave mine away to somebody awhile ago; probably need to buy another. She has copyrighted it so it is not available for free on the internet.

Finally in this exhaustive dissertation on scents, wine and flowers, recently Jim and I visited The Meadow, a shop on the ultra-trendy N. Mississippi Avenue, where you can find our roses and lots of other beautiful flowers, plus wine, plus chocolate, plus believe it or not all types of salt.

Here is Jim holding dishes made of salt, which you can heat on the stove and with great fanfare, cook oysters or other wonderful food at the table on the hot salt.


In the flower business we of course have florists, in wine it's a sommelier, but did you know that Mark Bitterman of The Meadow (and let's not forget his wonderful wife Jennifer), calls himself a Selmelier? Mark, did you make that up or is it a real word?

Anyhow, you can read all about his poetic take on the refined tastes available in different salts at their web site, www.atthemeadow.com

Meanwhile, you may ask, what are the most beautifully scented roses grown by Peterkort Roses????

Number 1: Lavande - a beautiful lavender color, a small rose, a huge lavish scent. To me it is very fruity with citrus and lychee predominating. True, it opens rapidly and does not last a long time in the vase. However, you can buy this rose and tuck it in with something else, just for the fragrance. Nobody will deny its beauty.

Number 2: Yves Piaget - This peony-shaped dark pink rose has the perfect rose scent. It indeed smells as a rose should smell. And what an interesting shape - not the traditional tea rose shape at all.

Number 3: Helga Piaget - A white garden rose with a more delicate scent but subtly different than Yves Piaget. Lighter with less pure rose and maybe a small citrusy component.

Number 4: Mon Cherie - This is a pink-lavender rose with a distinct scent of anise, like the terragon herb.

Don't go "scentless" in your rose bouquets again!

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