Friday, February 12, 2010

Perfume Illuminated: Chocolate, Wine and Roses

"You are the rose of me
in you I have lost myself utterly
your fragrance, as a breath from paradise
about me ever lies
I crush you to my heart with sutblest ecstacy
and on your lips I live, and in your passionate eyes."
~ Chettur

Long before paper valentines, male and female humans strove to inspire each others love and lust with potions and cocktails from the arena of the sensual. In today's contribution to the Perfume Illuminated Project Beth and I feature a heavenly triad to awaken the senses: Chocolate, Wine and Roses.


In ancient Rome, where pleasure and luxury held extraordinary value, scented wines were created by macerating rose petals in fermented grape juice. During the feast of Rosalia, in honor of Roses, garlands and petals of the flower were used to adorn palaces and villages.

Roses, as other flowers, are the reproductive organs of the plant. As such they blossom open exuding their enchanting aroma to attract pollinators such as honey bees, moths and hummingbirds. In the Arab world, where the rose originates, glorious gardens have been created as an homage to the rose and a place for contemplation. In poetry, literature and aromatherapy the rose is associated with the human heart.

"The red rose whispers of passion
and the white rose breathes of love
O, the red rose is a falcon
and the white rose is a dove
But I send you a cream-white rosebud
with a flush on it's petal tips
for the love that is purest and sweetest
has a kiss of desire on it's lips"
~ O'Reilly're in my blood like holy wine, you taste so bitter and so sweet.
Oh, I could drink a case of you darling and still be on my feet...

~Joni Mitchell

Wine also had his own celebrations in adoration of Dionysus, known as Bacchus in Rome, the god of agriculture and pleasure. Anthestêria, a three day long festival of flowers in honor of the mythic God and the arrival of the blossoming Earth.

Considered an aphrodisiac due to it's ability to relax the mind and cause an altered state of awareness wine is also pleasurable to the palette. For those who do not like wine or drink alcohol a lovely alternative is hydrosols, a by product of the distillation process. Hydrosols are now produced worldwide and are available in of virtually every plant that is distilled. My personal favorite is Jasmin sambac hydrosol.

"Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off.
It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time."
- Anonymous

The third ingredient in this frothy trilogy is chocolate, from the cacao seed of South America. Rich, creamy chocolate offers physical pleasure to the palette and soothes the nervous system. This edible wonder began first as a frothy, spicy beverage in the rain forest of Mesoamerica, meaning middle earth. Discovered and brought back to Spain by conquistadors, the seed eventually was processed into the hard and delicious confection we adore today.

Cocoa butter, the vegetable fat from the bean used to make the gastronomical delight, is also used for ointments and toiletries. Moisturizing with a mild, warm chocolate aroma the butter is an excellent emollient used in creams, soap and solid perfumes.

Like Rose and Wine, Cacao was honored with many festivals in Mesoamerica and is featured in their creation myths. The Latin name for Cacao Theobroma meaning literally “food of the gods”. The Mayans and Aztecs saw a correlation between chocolate and blood. Chocolate as the blood of the Earth and essence of life.

Although I have not come across any old formulas for perfumes made of this menage a trois, there are historical references to the first liquid perfumes evolving from scented wines made with rose and orange flowers.

In botanical perfume we have the following ingredients related to our trio:

  • Rose otto essential oil, steam distilled from the petals of roses. Rose otto refers to Rosa damascena flowers.
  • Rose concrete and absolute, chemically extracted from the petals of roses.
  • Rose wax, a left over by product of the extraction process
  • Rose hydrosol
  • Rose hip and seed oil
  • Grape alcohol, used as the base for liquid perfumes.
  • Cognac essential oil, Vitis vinifera, White and Green.
  • Cocoa Absolute and C02, Theobroma cacao, extracted from the seeds.
  • Cocoa Butter
For a liquid perfume I suggest a fragrance from the Floral bouquet family with a touch of Oriental. Use a base of Grape with these essences for the love potion:

- Rose absolute or otto
- Vanilla Co2 or absolute
- Cognac essential oil
- Cocoa Absolute or C02
- Rose geranium
- Bergamot
- Bitter Orange
- Ginger
If you want to take this more into a Mayan potion add:
- Black Pepper
- Cinnamon
- Hazelnut
- Honey Absolute
- Butter Absolute

FLAVOR: Beth Schreibman Gehring

Fun related items:
Famous Rose Gardens of the World
The Worlds 50 Most Beautiful Gardens

Images: Nose and Mouth are old engravings on Parchment, Paintings from ArtMagik
The Shrine by William Morris
Gather Ye Rosebuds while ye may by William Morris
The Wine of Tokai from Luis Ricardo Falero
Roses of Youth by Henrietta Rae


Ines said...

Your text provoked me out of lurking. :) Now I need to make sure I got this right. The Jasmine hydrosol is something you can drink? I've never heard of that. Sounds really interesting.

Illuminated Perfume said...

Hi Ines, Jasmine hydrosol is indeed something we can drink. Here is a post on this journal that speaks of this divine elixir from heaven:

Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

Let me just say Ines that when my husband and I met Roxana, she offered us each a glass of spring water with the Jasmine hydrosol....I've never tasted anything so lovely. At that point, we were hers forever....Pretty potent stuff it is :)))))