Nez Bar is very interesting. They blend wine knowledge, music, taste and smell into something that is beautiful and unique. NezBar was founded by Annie Shapero and Suzanne Grinberg, both have a background in wine. For NezBar it is about translating fragrance beyond worded descriptions but more as to more emotions, and feelings. We sat to talk with both founders to hear about their view of the scent world and their place in it.
Annie Shapero & Suzanne Grinberg of NezBar
- Can you tell everyone who you are and your backgrounds?
We first met in 2003, in Rome, where we were studying Italian language. Annie stayed on for eight years, working as a travel writer primarily and studying wine on the side. She obtained her sommelier certification from AIS (Italian Sommelier Association) in 2008. After a sojourn in Spain, Suzanne returned to her native New York City. While studying for her Master’s degree in Spanish Literature and Education, she worked as a personal assistant to make-up and cosmetics guru Bobbi Brown. Before returning to the States in 2009, Annie continued her aromatic education at Paris’ Cinquième Sens professional perfumery course. Meanwhile, Suzanne was honing her own wine education at the WSET, where she obtained an Advanced Certificate. When the two connected Stateside, they found that every meet-up inevitably culminated in the celebration of something aromatic – be it Vermentino and oysters or soufflé and perfume samples. The rest is the history!
- When did the idea behind NezBar begin?
A few years ago we had the idea to open a brick and mortar location selling intensely aromatic wine and our favorite niche perfumes, but it was more a pipe dream—something fun to talk about—than a reality. Last year (in 2014) we were having a glass of wine at one of our favorite local wine bars and smelling through some perfume samples. Annie remarked that the salty skin musk quality of the fragrance reminded her of the mineral finish in a coastal Italian white wine, like Vermentino. On top of that, Suzanne said it had something you wanted to touch or take a bite out of. They both agreed that talking about scent was so much more than words. It was colors and textures. It was stories. Annie brought up the wine classes she teaches through her company, DiVino [divinonyc.com], and how her students always feel more comfortable talking about wine notes after they've talked about memories and touched and tasted chocolate, berries, stones and flowers. They agreed that most wine and perfume writing uses language reserved for industry professionals as opposed to organic images and feelings that scent evokes for everyone. Our goal was to create something instantly sensual and relatable with regard to both perfume and wine.
- Also what were the steps that were taken to make it happen?
We’re still in our infancy. We vowed to meet every Wednesday night where Annie’s friend and fellow vocal student Charles Turner [http://charlesturnermusic.com] was singing at Minton’s Jazz [http://www.mintonsharlem.com]. Annie’s been writing about aroma for years, but Suzanne had the brilliant idea of using images. Over the course of three months we amassed our first batch of reviews, which we like to call multisensory storytelling. Our friends, neighbors, fellow connoisseurs and industry people encouraged us to keep going.
- At the moment what is your view on where perfumery is right now and where it may be headed?
Niche perfumery is definitely on the rise, and the best news is that more and more people are willing to try scents that aren't necessarily name brands. More than anything, the audience for perfumery is changing. There is more appreciation for unique and even unusual scent than ever before, which will only inspire independent perfumers to think outside the box and take more risks.
- Coming from a wine background can you say a few words how it affects your view of scent or how you experience it?
There seem to be two distinct ways of appreciating wine in the States, which we find very limiting: one focused on expertise and vintage, specific tasting notes and winery name-dropping. The other is more focused on the pure pleasure of the experience of drinking wine, and often regarded as pedestrian or simplistic. We believe that wine expertise and the experience of wine drinking are not mutually exclusive. Wine appreciation comprises everything from the basic experience of smelling and tasting, to the convivial act of sharing wine, and the intrinsic desire to know more about something that you love. Wine connoisseurs talk about terroir – a sense of place that fine wines exude. Great perfumes in our opinion are just as transportive both in their conception and execution.
- How can readers reach or find NezBar?
Check out our site and sign-up for our mailing list to receive an alert whenever we post. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We love to hear from our readers so please don’t hesitate to send us questions or perfume suggestions for review.