There’s not many people I know that would object to the scenario of relaxing with a great glass of wine with soulful music playing in the background. After all, both things are somewhat driven by our moods. Sometimes you may be in the mood for a crisp, dry white wine while other times your mood suites an earthy, full-bodied red. At times you may crave a little rock n roll, whereas other times you long for some bluesy jazz. Maybe we don’t think about it all that much but music and wine seem to be inextricably linked.
The music and wine connection starts with the vines. There are wine producers that play music to their grape vines and have special speaker systems to deliver the sound to the vineyard. Although unsubstantiated, there are studies that show music has a positive impact on plant health and growth. During the wine making process, winemakers and their teams play music in their cellars; this much I have experienced firsthand. Although this is more likely for the benefit of the workers than the fermenting wine, it does becomes part of the overall experience.
Song lyrics often mention wine. For examples of this I don’t have to look much further than my own wine portfolio from A.I. Selections, which each month features a musical wine quote on the cover. This month, fittingly, the quote is from a Lou Reed song, “Empty, empty bottles, Lying side by side, Used up empty bottles, Remembering long lost wine”. Bands from the Grateful Dead (“I asked him for water, he poured me some wine. We finished off the bottle and broke into mine”) to rappers such as Jay Z (“I’m getting better with time. I’m like Opus One young”) mention wine in their lyrics.
In the wine business, we refer to some winemakers as ‘rock stars’ but, like it or not, rock stars are now becoming winemakers. AC/DC, Whitesnake, Dave Matthews, and Lil John — to name just a few — all have their own wine labels. “Wines that Rock” commissions their wine making partners to create wines inspired by Rock ‘n Roll; The Rolling Stones Forty Licks Merlot, anyone? In New York City there’s even a venue based on the premise of wine and music – City Winery. This concept of live music venue combined with great food and a thoughtful wine list is spreading to other cities, including Chicago, Napa, and Nashville.
Music is part of our environment. It just may be that the link between music and wine can be simply explained in the same way that location, ambiance, and even our mood affect the way a wine tastes. If you’re in a cheerful mood, sitting at a table near the water in the Italian Riviera with mellow music playing in the background, I’m willing to bet that the glass of wine in your hand is going to taste better than if you were in a foul mood, on a dreary day, sitting in silence…
And now for the shameless, but related, plug: Join me on Friday, November 22 from 4:30-7:30pm at California Wine Merchants in the Financial District for some amazing wine (featuring A.I. Selectionspoured by me, as well as La Caravelle Champagne and Humbolt County wines) and live jazz featuring the Andrew Gutauskas Trio, to celebrate the store’s 5th Anniversary. It’s free as long as you bring your good mood with you! Click here for more info.