Friday, September 7, 2012

Music and Wine: Pairing

Music and Wine
Most of us probably already think of specific wines going well with certain music.  The first time I became aware of music and wine complementing each other was in college back in 1968 when I was at a professor’s home and she had a recording of Bach transcriptions by the guitarist, Andre Segovia.  We were drinking a Portuguese rose with a very lovely nose.  I believe it was called Costa del Sol.  Back then, many of us drank Mateus, Lancers, etc. and thought Paul Masson was a premium wine. I remember thinking that the wine went well with the music. Because I was more interested in music than wine, I purchased the record and only recently found a CD replacement.  It is still one of my favorite recordings, and I’m certain the association with wine had some effect. This was my first experience of thinking that wine went well with the music. 

The next time I remember an experience of wine with music was in 1973 when I bought my first audio system.  I often came home after work, poured a glass of wine and put on some music.  I don’t remember what I was drinking, but it was some innocuous white wine like a Chenin Blanc.  I was playing some dramatic piano music, Liszt transcriptions of opera pieces, and remember that the wine did not seem to go well with the music. 

The third experience was the most educational and actually involved an attempt to pair wine with the music.  In 1978, when in graduate school, I often took a Saturday night break by going to a French restaurant that became a nightclub after dinner with live jazz.  The music was played by The Gabe Baltazar Quartet.  I went there frequently and often shared a bottle of wine with a friend.  I distinctly remember trying to find a wine that went well with the music.  Although I drank mostly red wines at home, I would order white wines, dry, lively wines similar to Alsatian Pinot Blancs.  That is what went well for me with the music.  Since then, whenever I’ve been at a jazz nightclub, I’ve tried to chose a wine to complement the music.  At most classical concerts, wine is not available.  But in Napa that sometimes happens.

For nearly 30 years, we have lived in Napa where the wineries often have concerts and where music is almost as much of wine drinking as food is.  There are music concerts at Mondavi, Domain Chandon and other wineries. Then there are Music in the Vineyards and various wine cave concerts.  Napa Valley Opera House  offers wine before the performances and at intermission. Silo's , a local jazz club serving premium wines, is noted for "Pairing great wine with great music." I’m still waiting to learn of a winery that offers a wine, food and music pairing at their tastings.  It is so obvious; it must be happening somewhere.

At home, I listen to many hours of classical music and jazz and sometimes have a glass of wine while listening, especially if a friend is over.  Many people probably do the same thing.  How many of us would listen to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde while drinking a rose?  Would we listen to Ravel’s Jeux D’eau and open a big Napa Cab?  Obviously not.  I once thought of composers in terms of being varietal wines, but the music of composers is too diverse and varietals can have quite a range of styles also.  But individual pieces of music do seem to pair better with certain wines.  I’ve never compiled a list of wines that complement musical works, but one could easily do so. Wine and music go so well together.  I’d love to hear from others regarding your thoughts and experiences of music and wine complementing each other.

Wine Pairing with Music
We pair wine with food, events, weather, seasons, company, etc., so why not pair wine with music? There is actually a fair amount of information about this on the Internet, and there is even an annual convention of wine and music pairing. Here are a some links if you are interested:

Wine paired with music at a winery:

4th Annual Wine and Music Pairing:

Music alters the taste of wine:

Music to drink wine by:

Blog article:

Comment on Chateau Montelena webpage “Music Pairing with Wines?”

Wine and music pairings:

Wine and classical composers:

Wine Spectator article Pairing Wine and Music:

Matching music and wine: What Music Makes Your Wine Taste Better?

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