A Lesson in Pairing Scents

Three talented florists create arrangements that echo aromas in wine. F&W's Marcia Kiesel offers recipes to match.
pairing scents

slideshow See all of the flowers and wines

The Florist: Studio Choo

At this new San Francisco shop, Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo create rustic arrangements—they call their style "just picked from the garden"—for clients like Delfina restaurant. The pair write a column for the Design Sponge blog about their farmers'-market inspirations, like fragrant fruit layered with herbs and flowers, as in the arrangement here. "We designed it to seem like it was growing and ripening," Rizzo says.

The Aroma: Pairing

Flowers Honeysuckle, jasmine and roses are loosely gathered with sage, apricots and thyme so they "look like each flower is finding a space to open in the sun," Rizzo says. Acacia bowl from Crate & Barrel, $6; crateandbarrel.com.

Wine 2009 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontés ($15). Torrontés is a white grape that is primarily planted in Argentina. The vibrant, medium-bodied wine features potent stone fruit and floral aromas of honeysuckle and jasmine that mirror the scents in Studio Choo's arrangement.

Food Sautéed shrimp in a bright citrus-herb pan sauce pairs beautifully with the fresh acidity in a white wine like Torrontés. Adding oranges to the dish complements the wine's orange-blossom notes.

The Florist: Holly Flora

Holly Vesecky and Rebecca Uchtman, who run Los Angeles's Holly Flora, gravitate toward bright flowers showcased in sculptural arrangements, like the irises in a vintage ikebana (Japanese floral sculpture) vase at left. "We love bold colors and fresh herbs," says Vesecky. "We're so inspired by color. White is sort of tame. Everybody wanted to send white flowers for such a long time because they felt like it was very elegant, very Ralph Lauren. Now it's about being casual, enthusiastic and colorful." hollyflora.com.

The Aroma Pairing

Flowers Peonies, lilacs and irises look even more vivid when combined with bright green herbs like mint and basil.

Wine 2007 Hugel Gewürztraminer ($22). Gewürztraminer from Alsace is a full-bodied white with a rich lychee aroma and juicy pear flavor.

Food Spicy Thai curry noodles go well with the fruity sweetness in Gewürztraminer.

Holly Flora

© Alex De Cordoba

Quirky Kitten

Holly Flora makes succulent-covered pet sculptures; actor Jason Schwartzman is a fan.

The Florist: Saipua

Sarah Ryhanen, co-owner of Saipua in New York City, has an unstructured style. She uses flowers with subdued scents at dinner parties so they don't compete with the food: "We hear all the time, 'Nothing fragrant on the table.' " saipua.com.

The Aroma Pairing

Flowers Ranunculus, dahlias, violets, scabiosa, black basil and oregano in a 10-inch-high parfait glass.

Wine 2008 C. Donatiello Maddie's Vineyard Pinot Noir ($62). Pinot Noir from California often evokes violets, black cherries and red berries with subtle herbal notes.

Food Duck in a raspberry sauce is a classic pairing with Pinot Noir, which has deep berry flavors.


© Sarah Ryhanen

Suds and Buds

Ryhanen approaches soap-making the way she does flowers: by layering scents.

PUBLISHED August 2010