The wine and music pairings you didn't know you needed
World Best Bar
May 09, 2020
26 November 2020
Although, who can deny that they haven’t committed the supposed cardinal sin of opening a bottle of red to have with fish when it’s all that’s left in the back of the cupboard?
Nevertheless, times are changing. The practice of pairing wine – not with just the weather or what’s on offer in the supermarket – with music is a burgeoning pastime for dedicated vino lovers. Sitting down with your iPod shuffle and curating the perfect playlist might not necessarily be what springs to mind when you open a bottle of wine after work, but on reflection, the idea isn’t as insensible as it first appears. A glass of champagne or prosecco, often drunk to celebrate a sense of occasion, is rarely ever enjoyed to the tunes of Blink 182. Likewise, a healthy glass of Shiraz isn’t normally enjoyed to a cacophony of Kylie Minogue’s greatest hits.
Research suggests that music does affect our discernment of food and drink. The rudimentary thesis is that our senses don’t act in isolation; rather, they are all magnified or enhanced by the others. It’s well accepted that our sense of smell and taste are related, so it’s not such a stretch to consider that our hearing also plays a role in taste perception and enjoyment.
It’s not an entirely new idea. United Kingdom-based wine merchants, Odd Bins, have been offering musical suggestions with their wine for some time now, but the concept hasn’t yet become mainstream. At the same time, this collaboration between wine and music seems to be slowly making its foray into popular culture.
While it might seem a little pretentious to some, the idea of selecting the perfect track to set the mood isn’t anything particularly revolutionary. Some have professed that it is about taking a synesthetic approach to drinking and cultivating a multi-disciplinary carnal experience. But this over intellectualising exaggerates the complexity of choosing music and drink to suit your mood and environment.
If you do want to dive headfirst into pairing wine with music, here are a few ideas to get you started.
This silky smooth but bold red evokes an atmosphere of vintage love affairs with its notes of cherry and chocolate. With critics praising Lana Del Rey for the cinematic quality of her music, the themes of melancholia, love and tragedy are natural bedfellows with the Pinot Noir. Lorde and Adele would also be perfectly matched to this classic red.
A glass of fizz is a perennial favourite, and its bubbles always feel a little decadent and naughty but eternally stylish. Timeless artists singing standards of the Great American songbook never fail to enhance a glass of prosecco. Pop on some Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald and bask in the jazzy tunes of ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’. See if you can taste the difference.
Affectionately known as a Cab Sauv, it’s one of the world’s most popular reds and famed for its spicy notes of pepper layered with tones of mint and jam, depending on the climate of the grape cultivation. Bob Dylan is the perfect artist to pair with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. His timeless music and thought-provoking lyrics are still celebrated today, decades after they were written, and wonderfully enhance this classic red.
This dark grape wine is an all-American classic, bursting with notes of wild berry and silky vanilla. Naturally, American artists influenced by the great American folk scene perfectly accompany Zinfandel. Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson and even Taylor Swift can all set the perfect atmosphere for a glass of this California masterpiece.
Kicking back with your favourite glass of wine should always be a pleasurable moment, and overthinking does can somewhat eradicate the sense of enjoyment you should feel. If you take the essence of pairings wine and music with a pinch of salt and a sense of humour, however, it appears to be a worthwhile endeavour, whether at home of enjoying some live music. While it seems churlish to suggest that you dedicate any amount of precious time to carefully calibrating a classical aria to match a vintage Bordeaux, maybe popping on a track which sets the tone for your tipple isn’t as crazy as it sounds?