The concept of pairing wine and music has been gaining in popularity especially as a result of two recent news items. A paper published by Heriot Watt University, proves that music can “enhance” the taste of wine by an average of 36%. Another enthusiast for the concept is Clark Smith, of California based Vinovation, who has successfully tested his wine and music pairing theories on NPR with Day to Day's Alex Cohen.
If we are passionate about our personal “taste” (as most of us are), when we experience something we like, we are naturally inclined to want to know more about it. In my 17 year music industry career, I have listened to a lot of music. I'd estimate I hear 40-50 new products per week. It was not until four years ago, when l I moved to California, that I truly experienced a “love” of wine. Being new to wine, I have a much more developed sense of my own taste in music and much more of an ability to articulate my likes and dislikes. As I taste new wines, I have by instinct included music in my tasting notes. I include detail on music that I would associate with the tasting experience or on the specific music that was playing at the time of the tasting. I find that associating something I know (music) with something I don't know (wine) is a natural fit, and that it makes discovery of the less familiar product easier to archive and therefore more retainable.
I estimate that there is an infinite choice opportunity in pairing wine and music and that such opportunity welcomes everyone into the conversation from expert to novice. A lot of purists might argue that ONLY classical music can be paired with wine but I tend to disagree. Music has been proven to make wine taste different, not necessarily better, and therefore our interpretation of the effects is a matter of personal taste. With the abundance of choice available in music as a result of digital distribution (Music 2.0), and in wine as a result of direct-to-consumer sales (Wine 2.0), it is a natural step to have the two become more familiar with one another from a relational perspective.
When pairing wine and music, I find that this enhanced experience is as much about context as it is about “taste”. Wine and Food pairing catch phrases such as “if it grows there, it goes there” also can hold a certain relevance in pairing wine and music, but there is much more to consider. The overlapping commercial details for both Wine and Music are REGION, LABEL, YEAR, STYLE and PRODUCER.
With each post, I will include a pairing of wine and music. In each case, the musician(s) will have provided their permission to offer a free song as part of the pairing so that we can all share in the experience. Special thanks to Philip for the opportunity to share my ideas with Snooth, and thanks to the musicians for letting us use their music for this purpose.
Wine: 2006 Blicks Lane Sauvignon Blanc
Wine Region: Marlborough, New Zealand
Wine Label: Blicks Lane / Walnut Block
Wine Year: 2006
Wine Type: White: Sauvignon Blanc
Wine Description: From the sun drenched fields of Marlborough, New Zealand, Blicks Lane Sauvignon Blanc is a crisp and full bodied white with flavors of spice, mango and tropical fruit. Blicks Lane, a product of Walnut Block, is produced by brothers Clyde and Nigel Sowman. Walnut Block is a “boutique winery producing high quality wines” and is located in the Wairu Valley - an ancient dry river bed which has created a prime growing area for great wines.
Music: The Weather Underground
Music Region: Los Angeles, California
Music Label: ReapandSow
Music Year: 2008
Music Type: Rock: Soul/Blues
Music Description: From the sunny coast of Los Angeles, California, The Weather Underground is a 4-piece rock band with great hooks and insightful lyrics - an exciting and original sound incorporating both soul and blues. The Weather Underground's website lists revolutionary influences from the 60s and 70s such as Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone and Jack Kerouac. The band's label ReapandSow uses the slogan “planting music in your mind”. The Weather Underground is currently touring the United States with artists such as Delta Spirit and The French Kicks, and is performing at Bonaroo.
Included at the end of this post is the song “All Ye People” performed by The Weather Underground. This track is from their latest EP “Bird in the Hand” and is mellow and soft (complimentary of whites as per Heriot Watt University) with a beautiful chorus and refreshing lyrics. This song has a gentle touch of slide guitar and a great and vibrant hook that culminates with a full arrangement of instrumentation that is profound and powerful. I find that the track pulls the flavor from the wine, really bringing out the fruit.
The music and the wine are both of great quality. In context, the region of Marlborough, New Zealand could be compared to what LA is to the US Music scene - many international stars come out of both regions, and there is plenty of competition to stand out and be noticed amongst the crowd. Many positive characteristics of The Weather Underground are shared with the Blicks Lane, which has a tinge of spice and tropical fruit with a great length and an explosively pleasant and full bodied taste that plays to the taste buds. The entire EP “Bird in the Hand” is a good mix with this wine, but the track All ye People really stands out as a perfect companion to a glass of this Blicks Lane Sauvignon Blanc.
The music of The Weather Underground is insightful and whimsical in a way that is lacking from modern pop radio- much in the way the Blicks Lane avoids any of the modern formulaic and passion-free wine making tactics. Walnut Block claims it is “dedicated to vineyard management and careful winemaking” and it shows. Both products stand out amongst their peers with a gleaming sense of innovation and integrity. There is no lack of passion or willingness, rather strong and time tested methods with a clear sense of purpose.
In each case, the product is fresh and crisp - aspects which I tend to enjoy from my white wine and my music. Both the Blicks Lane, and The Weather Underground are great expressions of what their region's do best, and are a perfect match for the long Summer days ahead.
The Weather Underground - All Ye People - all_ye_people.mp3
Adam Rabinovitz is Senior Director of Retail Marketing at IODA, the global leader in digital distribution, marketing, and technology solutions for the independent music industry. IODA distributes music from over 4000 labels, representing over 50 different countries and over 170 different genre styles.