Some time ago, I came across the trivial fact that red wine has the same approximate pH as a healthy vagina. Along with yogurt, red wine is a common point of comparison for the flavour of vaginal secretions.
So it followed, somewhat obviously, that wine connoisseurs would be ideal candidates to dispell the mystery, crude jokes and goddess-flower metaphors surrounding the variety of vaginal odor. Their noses are trained to sniff out subtle notes in scents that have some reference points in common with the scent of a woman, and as a bonus they tend to be classy sorts who could lend a professional feel to my potentially seedy investigation.
Despite early doubts, I had very little difficulty in rustling up a selection of women willing to donate scent samples. Most of them wish to remain anonymous, so I'll refer to them as Mulva, Delores, Regina, and Jen.
Mulva is a healthy woman in her twenties, at an indeterminate point in her cycle at the time of sampling.
Delores is a healthy woman, also in her twenties, who volunteered to not shower for several days before collection.
Regina is also healthy and in her twenties, and approximated that she was ovulating on the day of the event.
Jen is yet another healthy twenty-something, who was eight and a half months pregnant (and still is, at the time of writing).
Each volunteer kindly wore a cotton handkerchief in her underwear for several hours prior to collection. This was not a controlled experiment, so no further instructions were given. The women were free to wipe, dab, or ignore the hanky as they saw fit.
Upon collection, each sample handkerchief was placed in its own wine glass for easy handling.
Emily Milliken is a dedicated wine afficianado with no professional affiliations, who has sampled widely and visits wineries a few times each year.
Solomon Siegel is a Victoria restauranteur who has been sampling and critiquing wine from an early age.
I, Sarah, have no particular wine expertise and participated as the token vagina geek.
To help separate the sniffing exercise from any social rules, and to respect the anonymity of the volunteers, the samples were labelled with colours. If you at home can match up each volunteer with the correct colour label, you can win prizes from Earth's Herbal, so pay close attention.
Green had this to say for herself. “I rode my bike to work and the hanky kept riding up my bum! I was worried it would just smell like poo, but then I dropped it in the toilet anyway. It was an accident. Sorry.” Ooh, disqualified!
Emily: “This smells like clean cloth.” After partaking of some cheese to cleanse her palate, she declared, “Fruity, with a hint of grass. A clean finish.”
Sarah: “I agree; this is very subtle. Distinctly fresh and light.”
Solomon: “Subtle a light musk. A touch of overripe plum, like Slivowicz or something.”
Emily: “Hmm. I hate to make this comparison ”
Sarah: “It's OK, go ahead.”
Emily: “Chips. I smell chips. It's salty, and greasy, like deep fried corn chips. Not the baked kind, to clarify. This sample is also very light.”
Sarah: “Interesting. This smells sort of creamy to me, like dairy. Like maybe your chips are sour cream, but with no onion. It's very flat, there is nothing sharp, no high notes.”
Emily: “Yes, one-dimensional, not complex.”
Solomon: “This is almost perfumed hint of rose petal. There's something in the way, though. The scent is underneath, but there's something between me and the scent.”
Sarah: “Emily and I both thought it smelled sort of fatty and thick, is that what you mean?”
Solomon: “OK, I'm just going to come out and say this. It's urine. I smell urine. And that's OK. I think that as a man, you just have to get over that, because there's probably going to be some urine smell and if you just go about your business it will get washed away. But I can't get through it here, I can't do anything about it.”
And that's that!
Emily: “Just a moment, I'm having a conflict with my own armpits OK. This is unmistakably vaginal! It smells like a vagina. I can't believe I'm sitting here smelling it over and over again, thinking about it! It's not salty like the last one, but stronger. Very full-bodied, fragrant. It smells oceany, but without the salt.”
Sarah: “Yes, wow, vaginal! It smells acidic, and fleshy ”
Emily: “Yes, fleshy, but not meaty necessarily.”
Sarah: “No maybe brothy. Hearty. And briny, but not like fish. More like a seashell. It is more complex than the last one.”
Solomon: “This is more pungent. But not bad pungent, just stronger It smells like a vagina. It's very vagina-smelling; it's big and full and vagina-y. That's kind of it's own smell, you know? Well, it changes as you do things are we assuming the volunteers were alone when they did this?”
Sarah: “I didn't specify.”
Solomon: “Sour apple. And something wine-y, a bit of balsamic.”
Sarah: “Sour apple that's good. It's acidic but not sour, and not citrusy like lemon or something.”
Conceptual fusion is no substitute for first hand experience, apparently. Not only do vaginas vary in scent, but the essential vaginal odor is vagina-y. Whether these descriptions prove useful to humanity or not, some of you may find it reassuring that it is entirely possible to organize a non-sexual panty-sniffing at your house during which none of the participants feel embarrassed or gross.
Don't forget to try your luck in the contest.
This article contains a puzzle. If you solve it, you can win prizes!