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New Ways of Pairing Wine

It was about time for something new in the world of wine, don't you think? I don't know about you, but I've seriously grown tired of eating good food and drinking nice wine. There's always just been something missing in that equation. I have a bite of wagyu beef, a sip of fantastic Cabernet, and I feel all empty and incomplete, not to mention the fact that the wine just doesn't taste quite as good as it could.

Last Friday, I found out what I was missing. It turns out that my wine (and yours) has never quite tasted as good as it might have, simply because we were not listening to the right music when we drank it.

Yes, that's right. Wine and food pairing is so.....2003. These days it's all about pairing your wine with music.

So says winemaker Clark Smith in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle last week (written, I should disclaim, by W. Blake Gray, who is a contributor here at Vinography). Smith, who owns a company called Vinovation, is both a winemaker and a wine improver -- his company offers services to adjust alcohol levels and other properties of finished wines -- and is frequently a lightning rod for controversy in the wine world.

But Smith isn't just making a fashion statement about how life is better when you pop a cork with good tunes in the background, he claims that music actually changes the way you perceive the taste of wines, and that some music will make a given wine taste bad, and some will make it taste better.

To which I say, no shit Sherlock. But instead of spending time blathering on about how EVERYTHING in the external environment (light, sounds, textures, flavors) AND everything in the internal environment (moods, emotions, metabolism, energy level) ALL affect the way we perceive the flavors of wine, I'm going to go one further and suggest some additional pairings that might radically change the way you enjoy your wine.


1. Wine and Arguments -- Is your cheap wine lacking dynamism? Try telling your significant other that those jeans make their ass look fat and always have. Then take a swig of that Two Buck Chuck. A little fight or flight response adds body and depth to any wine.

2. Wine and Grief -- Save your best wine for when it will really taste good. The death of a loved one or a favorite pet is a doubly good time to pop open your favorite bottle of red. Not only is your loss a good excuse for a drink, your grief will take the edge off of tannins, and generally smooth out all red wines. Be careful not to get any tears into your wine, as they are guaranteed to change the flavor for the worse.

3. Wine and Exhaustion -- Just ask a trucker. Wine never goes down quite as well as it does after 36 hours on the road and a handful of no-doze. With a lack of sleep your senses shift towards delirium, which is scientifically proven to add at least 5 points to the score of any wine. Save up those 88 pointers and stay awake long enough to make them 93s!!

4. Wine and Weightlessness -- Everything tastes better in freefall. Period.

Of course you could not bother with any of these and just touch a 12 volt battery to your tongue after every sip. It's a great big world of perception out there, and your brain is a very sensitive instrument. If you're thinking that there's something that you could do to make any wine taste better, you're definitely right. Now it's just up to you to find out what it is.

Let the games begin.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.