Music and Wine - A Classic Pairing Part 2

This is a follow on from last weeks blog post Music and Wine - A Classic Pairing Part 1 And so we set out to investigate in a purely hedonistic fashion the effect of music on wine perception using a group of everyday people, all of whom had demonstrated their interest in wine and music by purchasing a ticket to The Wintergreen Performing Arts Summer Music Festival “Violins and Vines” event at Veritas Winery. To prove our hypothesis, we had to show that wine affected how music was perceived and, conversely, that music affected how wine was perceived. The samples consisted of groups of sixty people randomly selected by their ability (and willingness?) to pay for a ticket. The three groups were then exposed to the following pieces of music paired with the following wines. The volume of applause and a show of hands assessed the results of overwhelming approval for all pairings.

Scintilla paired with Mozart - K162 finale (fugue)

We chose an effervescent fugue by Mozart that captured not only the bright, scintillating acidity mixed with soft toast notes of two years on the lees but also the continuity of the fugue, symbolized by the constant petilliant flow of tiny bubbles, the hallmark of good bubbly.

Harlequin Reserve Chardonnaypaired with Dvorak - American String Quartet (Slow movement)

For this soft, creamy, yet fruity Chardonnay we chose the slow movement of the Dvorak American String Quartet. It is smooth and lyrical, with a richness of harmony. Throughout the rich, romantic string textures there are also moments of brightness as the strings are plucked in a melodic pizzicato.

Cabernet Franc 2015 paired with Haydn - Scherzo Russian Quartet (Op 33, no 5)

Veritas Cabernet Franc is fruity and peppery so we chose music by one of the fathers of humor and spice, Franz Joseph Haydn. The Scherzo (or Joke movement from Haydn’s Op 33, no. 5 “Russian Quartet”) takes the listener in a variety of directions, often redirecting the train of thought, just as this wine is an unexpected combination of experiences.

Petit Verdot 2014 paired with Schubert - Rosamunde Quartet Andante

Petit Verdot as I have said on many occasions is not a “petit” wine. It is dark and brooding with cascades of fruit, spice and mocha and fits with the dramatic yet lyrical slow movement of Schubert’s Rosamunde Quartet.

Othello NV paired with Tchaikovsky - Andante Cantabile

Othello is our port-style wine to be enjoyed as a gloriously indulgent finish to any work of art whether it is gastronomic or musical. Tchaikovsky’s Andante Cantabile combines the luxurious sweetness of both wine and music.

The thing that is so striking to me is the commonality of the language used in describing wine and music, particularly so when one is trying to explain the concept of structure in a wine. I like to use music as the analogy in a metaphorical sense. Imagine wine is music; like music, wine has to have structure that, for me, is the result of the tannins from French oak. Those barrel tannins enable one to taste each flavor component in the wine just as with an orchestra each instrument has to be heard in its entirety and in its place. Similarly with balance: if any one instrument is too loud the music, like a wine, is out of balance. Like wine, music is complex. Remember in the Mozart movie Amadeus when the king complains that there are too many notes in Mozart’s music? Can a wine have too many flavors? Not if the wine is properly structured. Finally, one of the most important qualities of a good wine is the finish, often referred to as the length.  Like a piece of music, tasting a wine has a beginning, a middle, and a finish— the length of which determines the emotional acceptance of the whole tasting and/or listening experience.

So there we have it, music and wine are strained through the sieve of individual human perception. Just as wine and music are natural buddies, what each one of us has experienced, our biases and the circumstances in which we drink wine, are probably as important as the actual taste of the wine and the sound of the music.

NewsAndrew Hodson