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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.

Comments (18)

11.05.07 at 11:52 PM

Brilliant! I have to send this to my friends...

11.05.07 at 11:55 PM

And I enjoy Manu Chao with my wine...Cheers!

andrea gori wrote:
11.06.07 at 6:12 AM

great post alder! this is one of the post that makes people talk for years! and definitely another reason of the uprising popularity of your bloG

Matthew wrote:
11.06.07 at 8:10 AM


Some further pairing suggestions:

1. Wine and Types of Work (writing vs. accounting vs. manual labor, etc. )

2. Wine and Decision-Making (not only will your wine be augmented by just the right decision, your decision making will no doubt improve, or at least be quicker).

3. Wine and other Wine

BUT ABOUT MUSIC: I have also heard/read of wine tasting-concerts that pair wine with different live music acts.

Alder wrote:
11.06.07 at 8:21 AM

Good ones. What kind of wine tastes better while doing your taxes ?

Julie Ann Kodmur wrote:
11.06.07 at 9:37 AM

Keep the list going...fresh fun thinking--thank you Alder!!!

flippin - cool wrote:
11.06.07 at 9:52 AM

And to think I have been missing so much for all these years! Interesting concept ... a book in the making?

Alder wrote:
11.06.07 at 10:50 AM

On the subject of subjectivity... here's a link a friend sent me this morning about just how "impressionable" we are when it comes to perceiving what wine "actually" tastes like.

Carl wrote:
11.06.07 at 2:19 PM

OK, after a whole day, hundreds of wine enthusiasts haven't come up with the obvious? Wine paired with......sex.... of course. Or maybe you're all just too ummmmm discreet. Yeah, that's it.

St. Vini wrote:
11.06.07 at 2:58 PM

And I didn't make that up. Mr. Smith claimed that moving closer to different wallpaper would actually change the taste of the wine.

There's also....
Reality TV?
Adult movies?

Alder wrote:
11.06.07 at 10:00 PM

Oh yeah. TV. Forgot about that one.

11.07.07 at 12:16 AM

Great topic, Alder! Congratulations!
Let me add, following the game, tho other possibilities to this matching brain storming:
1. Wine and Art: just think about the ideal matching pair between, for instance, one of your favorites sweet white natural wines and the most impressive sculpture I've ever seen, the Vatica'ns Laooconte.
2. Wine and Landscape: just think about, for instance, your favorite white dry unoaked wine and a landscape to be contemplated while drinking it. One condition: it cannot be the landscape frorm where these wine's grapes come.
All the best!

Veronica wrote:
11.07.07 at 3:09 AM

Wine & Exhaustion... excellent pairing! :)

How bout wine & heartbreak?

Matthew wrote:
11.07.07 at 7:27 PM

RE: "What kind of wine tastes better while doing your taxes ?"

The kind with a spout that can sit right on the edge of your desk.

Will wrote:
11.07.07 at 10:13 PM

couldn't agree more with the general point. wine is all about timing, whether its with food, people, music or argument. for instance the weather it great to pair wine with.

11.08.07 at 1:41 PM

I my Lord, I was doubled over by the end of the first one on the list! Fantastic post, Alder.

JS wrote:
11.22.07 at 7:00 PM

Yes! and what about tasting a wine with your customer that is completely hot!
There it is - the company! Good music doesn't hurt either when the two of you are at home doing housework! The mood is enhanced by the companion and elevated by the wine.

08.31.08 at 12:36 PM

Veronica, take my word on this one; wine and hearthbreak is a slightly dangerous combination (but never as bad as strawberry Margarita and hearthbreak).

The German writer Franziszka Stalmann wrote once this brilliant novel on the follow up of a bad divorce, whose title translates as: Champagne and camomile tea (which I fear is not translated yet in English, but the original is German and I read it in Italian).

Just in case someone wants be backed on Wine and divorce.

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