The Man Behind the Pheromones

A farewell to vintner and aphrodisiac expert dr. max lake

This month, the aphrodisiac world, my world, lost one of its greatest proponents. He was an inspiration, my mentor, my friend. Anyone who has ever heard me speak or followed my writing much at all has heard me mention Dr. Max Lake.

Max Lake, a prominent Australian surgeon, was one of the founding fathers of Australia’s Hunter Valley wine region. As Jancis Robinson described him on her website, “Max Lake was an outspoken surgeon who did not suffer fools at all, and founded Lake’s Folly winery way back in 1963.” I think that’s what I liked most about Max. If he liked you, there was no bullshit. If he didn’t like you, well, there was probably good reason.

But why Dr. Lake was so important to me was not his pioneering efforts of producing artisan Cabernet in the wilds of New South Wales. Max Lake was also a pioneer in the field of pheromones.

Throughout the later years of his life, Dr. Lake performed vast amounts of research on the similarities between food scents and the scents of different human pheromones. Particularly fascinating were his comparisons between notes typical of certain wine varietals and the aromas of specific male and female pheromones.

When he first proposed these comparisons to the general public, it was in a time when the existence of pheromones was still in question among the popular science community. His thoughts were original, outrageous, and Max to the max.

Without the support of modern science, Max most certainly wasn’t going to obtain the support of a mainstream publisher, so he began self-publishing his findings. Titles including Scent and Sensuality have been sold through independent retailers around the world since publication in the late 1980’s as well as on a website Max started himself, (at what age I am not sure but I figure he was at least nearing his eightieth birthday when he founded the site.)

Dr. Lake also identified pheromone aromas in numerous foods historically considered aphrodisiac, including truffles and triple cream cheeses. He passed away in his home in early April. The last flavor to pass his lips was a 2004 Vosne Romanee.


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