By Candice Sabatini

Ever go into a wine shop to buy a gift for a friend and feel overwhelmed by the choices? Or have trouble selecting the right wine to go with dinner in a restaurant? We all realize that with the help of a knowledgeable sommelier, the list seems manageable, and choosing becomes a pleasure rather than a burden.

The same holds true for fragrance. Whether you’re choosing for yourself, or buying a gift for someone else, it’s good to have the help of a knowledgeable guide. How about a sommelier of perfume, someone who has studied all aspects of the scent world and understands how fragrances are made, and can answer all your questions about the fireworks in those beautiful bottles? The Fragrance Foundation wants to share the love of scent and realizes that knowledge is powerful and the more people know, the more they enjoy the ride.

The Fragrance Foundation Certification Program is an intense course open only to those who are already talented in fragrance sales. Those that pass the lengthy exam are given a pin which tells you that the person you’re dealing with really knows what they’re talking about and is passionate about perfume. The fragrance specialist can explain the difference between natural and non-natural ingredients, how they’re extracted, and what the families of fragrances are as well as fragrance construction, how fragrance can trigger memory or relaxation, and even fragrance history. TMI for you? Don’t worry, they won’t overload with you with too much…unless you want to know it all. Most importantly, if you’re looking to buy a gift, the fragrance specialist can help you make an educated buy; or if looking for something new for yourself, instead of just spritzing ’til your olfactory senses are on overload, he or she will make suggestions that will enable you to make a great choice based on what you tell him or her about your preferences.

The Certified Specialists can be found in Saks, Sephora, and Nordstrom, as well as at select counters such as Thierry Mugler, CHANEL, and Victorinox Swiss Army, amongst others. Ask to speak to an expert and look for the pin. You’ll be glad you did!

Originally published February 2010
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