The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Music and Wine

Posted on | January 20, 2010 | Written by Perry Porricelli | 7 Comments

Recently, quite a few blog posts have discussed pairing specific wines with specific music, sort of along the lines of watching The Wizard of Oz and listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. There’s even one blog that dedicates itself to exploring the synesthetic relationship between wine and other sense stimulus. Synesthesia, or the crossing of sensory experiences, may seem really sexy—especially when it comes to wine—but I don’t necessarily buy it.

I admit that I don’t know how other people are actually pairing particular songs to particular wines. To me, whatever music or whatever wine you enjoy is what you should be pairing together. I don’t think there’s a particular song for a particular wine or a particular wine for a particular song.  I don’t understand that. I like both wine and music, so if I can put on some of my music and drink some wine I enjoy, it’s almost always perfect.

A lot of my beliefs about music and wine go back to many years ago when I was in the bar business. My partner and I got into the business because we were going out a lot in the city and rarely could we find the optimum combination of wine, food and music. So we said, “Hey, if we open up our own wine bar, we could have all our music, and just imagine how great that would be.” Turned out it was pretty great indeed.

All this was so long ago that CDs had just come out—the early ‘80s. We stocked the bar with all our favorite music—Frank Sinatra, Etta James, Ella, all kinds of British Invasion, The Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix, the Allman Brothers, and bands that were new back then like the Cult and U2. Our whole business was about the music. Our belief was that if you have good music on, you enhance the experience. And if you’re enhancing that experience, you’re going to prolong it. Our customers would stay and buy another round of drinks or another bottle of wine just because the music was that great. They stayed, they drank, they listened, they enjoyed themselves, they drank more and they stayed out later than they meant to.

Music helps you enjoy wine. But that’s not the same thing as saying that you need to plan your playlist to match your cellar selection.

I’ve been doing a lot of wine drinking and a lot of music listening for a long, long time, and I don’t get matching the “tonality” of wine to a song’s “tonality.” A beautiful wine can make you experience a song’s moment that much more profoundly. If you’re listening to some really good music and you’re drinking a really good bottle of wine, the wine might taste better at the moment; the music might sound better; but it’s not the Led Zeppelin playing through the sound system. It’s that you enjoyed that moment in time, that combination, that peak experience.

On the other hand, if you’re listening to some really bad music, you can really ruin a bottle of wine. That’s why I never drink and listen to Boston, one of the worst things ever to hit the airwaves. If I was drinking a good bottle of wine and Boston came on, and I couldn’t turn it off, I’d stop drinking the wine. I’d save it for when I could put on some Clapton or some Pearl Jam. Because that’s what I like, and because the point has always been to have good wine and good music.

So don’t worry about matching the Coltrane to the Brunello, or the Stooges to the Super-Tuscan. Give yourself the gift of your own taste—whatever you like to drink and whatever you like to listen to—and the peak experience is going to be there.


7 Responses to “Music and Wine”

  1. Kerry-Jo Rizzo
    January 20th, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

    I agree about Boston… ick. How about Black Sabbath and Capichera’s Carignano? Then followed by Recioto della Valpolicella! Let’s keep the mood deep, dark, and scary!

  2. p
    January 20th, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

    i like it kj-ozzy rules…whatever the mood there is a wine–whatever the wine there is a tune…

  3. Rhian
    January 20th, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

    Enjoyed the post Perry! Just out of curiosity, what wine would pair with Rush 😉

  4. p
    January 20th, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

    Don’t get me started Ryan!

  5. Keith Hickson
    January 20th, 2010 @ 10:43 pm

    Howlin’ Wolf and Barolo. Lightning Hopkins and Malbec. Muddy Waters and Petite Syrah. Napalm Death and vintage Port. Dang it, now I’m thirsty.

  6. p
    January 21st, 2010 @ 9:25 am

    That’s the whole point Keith, good music and fine wine feed off each other–as long as you are diggin both, then the enjoyment level rises…

  7. Deborah Kooperstein
    January 21st, 2010 @ 11:49 pm

    WIth Rush, go find 6 bottles of Cold Duck and turn up the volume & THAT’S NOT A PUT DOWN

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