There is no other drink with as many flavours, colour tones, and olfactory notes as wine.

Wine glass
Wine glass
Red wine, photo by Alejandro Heredia from FreeImages

People consume wine for many different reasons. It can be drunk before a meal as an appetiser, during a meal to enhance and complement various foods and their flavours, to help people unwind and relax, to distinguish specific moments in life and social occasions, to toast and celebrate, and for the sense of pleasure it can induce.

The complexity of the wine is what makes it so popular when compared to other alcoholic drinks. No two wines or two different harvests taste the same. Each bottle of wine is packed with distinct flavours, smells, and colours, all of which emerge…


The future has been one of the most captivating mysteries to humankind since ancient times. Desire to predict what is to come, manipulate time, and the laws of physics and nature turned our ancestors to various magical rituals, spells and prophecies. Through these practices, they hoped to find answers to existential questions and everyday problems, alter their destiny and the destiny of others, travel in time, and reach immortality.

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Papyri Graecae Magicae

Scrolls of magical texts from the Graeco-Roman period excavated in Egypt in the late 19th century are remarkable evidence of magic infiltrating everyday needs such as restoration of health and wellbeing…


Have you ever caught yourself struggling to describe an odour simply because you could not find the right word? If so, you are not alone.

A young woman smelling flowers
A young woman smelling flowers
Photo by Knight Duong on Unsplash

Describing odours can be quite challenging. There are only three odour-dedicated words in English, and these are stinky, fragrant and musty. However, the first two are somewhat subjective because what one person considers pleasant may be stinky for somebody else, like the smell of black currant or jasmine. While some detect the rich, mouth-watering aroma of black currant berries or the beautiful exotic floral scent of jasmine blossoms, others smell cat urine and faeces.

Seeing odours

Several…


What was it like to visit a market stall or a shop in antiquity and purchase a perfume? How good was the customer service? What were the customer’s expectations and general beliefs around scent?

Gender defined perfumes

Gender stereotypes in perfume marketing and production are recurrent trends and have been around for over 2,000 years. In antiquity, lighter floral perfumes made from rose, henna and lily blossoms were intended for men. If a man was caught wearing rich, spicy, or musky scents, he was perceived as a weak and self-absorbed individual. On the other hand, women could wear any perfume, light or heavy…


Most perfumery textbooks define perfume as a substance that emits beautiful fragrance. It is usually composed of essential oils (volatile liquids distilled from plants), absolutes, aroma chemicals, additives (such as colourants, preservatives and stabilisers), and floral waters mixed into a solvent (usually denatured alcohol, oil, or dipropylene glycol).

Odoriferous plants have been used for personal care and to scent clothes and living spaces for millennia. The art of perfumery began in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and China and later refined by the Romans. Modern perfumery emerged in the late 19th century with the chemical isolation and synthesis of components such…


Kyphi is the Greek translation of the Egyptian K’pt (Kapet), a mixture of aromatic herbs, spices, resins, gums, fragrant woods, roots, honey, and wine. It was primarily used as incense, a “perfume welcome” to gods. It is not known at what date Kyphi was first used in Egypt; however, the earliest references for burning resins in incense burners go as far back as the fifth dynasty (2494–2345 BC).

Many believed that the smoke rising from burning incense broke boundaries between the worlds of the living and gods and united them together. …


Flowers and floral arrangements have become an essential part of many social events and celebrations. How long exactly it has been so is very hard to tell. Women and men have adorned their bodies and living spaces with flowers, green foliage and evergreens for millennia. In his book The Natural History, even Pliny struggles to estimate when, how, and where this tradition started. According to him, the use of floral garlands in Rome and Greece was not so ancient and well established yet. However, it is very likely that, if not in garlands or chaplets, flowers were already used during…


In 2019 the global fragrance market was valued at around USD 32 billion. Even though the outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted and negatively impacted many business sectors, the fragrance and beauty industry has demonstrated a great deal of resilience. Positively, the pandemic has accelerated e-commerce and digital research growth, which have enabled many customers to explore new scents and try new products. Sales of favourite and staple fragrances have remained unaffected; however, new fragrance launches have fallen.

Fragrance consultations have moved from in-store to online so that customers could continue benefiting from premium services such as customised products and product…


Products enhancing physical beauty and attractiveness are as old as humankind. Both men and women have been seeking ways to transform their appearance, conceal imperfections, and reverse the first signs of ageing — because the younger we look, the healthier and more attractive we come across. If we look good, we feel good. Physical appearance is closely linked to our self-esteem, and our self-esteem has an overriding effect on thinking processes, values, and objectives.

Appearance and looks alterations are an essential part of human history, culture, and social construct. …


If we examine the medicine and perfume formulations of classical antiquity, we often discover that the only difference between these two was in their consistency. In some rare instances, there was no difference at all. Therefore, perfume was medicine, and medicine was perfume.

Photo by greschoj from FreeImages

I have often wondered if physicians then tried to differentiate between these two, and if so, how? It was perhaps the intention behind their use that gave them their identity and function. A recent study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has revealed that our attitude towards drugs and medical treatments influence their efficacy and outcome. Scepticism…

Marie Krnakova

Perfumer, writer, perfume history enthusiast

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