Wine and music: the new pairing

MOSI 3 At one of my favorite wine ‘social’ events–the MOSI Einstein on Wine

It started as a joke. Emailing back and forth with our esteemed blogmeister Lorena, we casually mentioned to each other some of the music that we enjoyed. Then I half-jokingly suggested that instead of talking about wine and food pairings I should do a blog on wine and music pairings, and she half-jokingly answered “Why not?” So here I am, charting what I thought would be new territory.

Actually, when I looked online I quickly realized that the idea was hardly new. There is at least one recording artist – Valencia Vas – who built her album of songs around wine pairings, as well as any number of contests and blogs about the same.

Now, I have a very wide range of musical interests, incorporating many different styles and tastes, but within those many different styles and tastes I have very strong opinions between what I like and what I ignore. Matching a single song to a single wine I found a little too limiting for the purposes of a blog, so I decided instead to offer a few play lists for different occasions that involve wine and then suggest a few styles of wine that would work with the music.

Let’s begin with classical music, which is my favorite style. Classical music, in my opinion, doesn’t generally lend itself very well to social situations. This is music to be listened to alone, perhaps while sipping on a soulful Cab. The exception to this, in my mind, is baroque music, which is also one of the few types of classical music that sounds good out of doors. I picture a cool grassy garden in springtime with my guests sipping on dry rosé, Italian Pinot Grigio, Alsatian Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Cava, or Prosecco. Here is my Go For Baroque Play List

  • Haydn: Serenade
  • Vivaldi: Flute Concerto in D, RV 427
  • Marcello: Oboe Concerto
  • Bach: Concerto for Violin in A Minor
  • Pachelbel: Canon
  • Handel: Harp Concerto
  • Vivaldi: Concerto For Two Mandolins

Sometimes, if the gathering takes on a French feeling, either with the food or the wine, I like to play some typical French songs that you might have heard on the Boul Miche in the 1930’s while hobnobbing with Henry Miller or Ernest Hemingway. This is also designed for an afternoon gathering, my guests sipping on a medium-dry Vouvray, a glass of Champagne, a slightly chilled Beaujolais-Village, or a not-too-serious Burgundian Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Here is my La Vie Parisienne Playlist

  • La Mer – Charles Trenet
  • La Vie En Rose – Edith Piaf
  • Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Le Quintette Du Hot Club Du France
  • Amapola – Tino Rossi
  • Ces Petite Choses – Jean Sablon
  • Ma Tonkinoise – Josephine Baker
  • Swing Valse – Gus Viseur

Sometimes while I’m making pizza or Italian Bread Salad I like to pour myself a glass of Barbera or Dolcetto or Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and put on some Neapolitan songs. They may sound like opera to some people but they are actually popular Italian songs from the late 19th and early 20th century. These songs are ingrained in the souls of most Italians. A few examples might be –

  •  Mattinata – Beniamino Gigli
  • Core ‘ngrato – Giuseppe di Stefano
  • Torna a Sorriento – Franco Corelli

 but any collection of Neapolitan songs by these artists, or by the great Tito Schipa, will work very well.

Let’s say it’s evening now. You have a lot of guests. Groups and cliques gather and chat. Almost any casual wine that is good but not too expensive will fit the bill. There are a lot of musical choices you could make. I sometimes like to play old 40’s and 50’s R&B/Rockabilly

  • Fine Brown Frame – Nellie Lutcher
  • Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache – Warren Smith
  • Shake Your Hips – Slim Harpo
  • Baby What You Want Me To Do – Etta James
  • Whole Lotta Lovin’ – Professor Longhair
  • A Pretty Girl (A Cadillac and Some Money) – Buddy Johnson Orchestra
  • Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine? – Harry ‘The Hipster’ Gibson
  • Chicken Rhythm – Slim Gaillard
  • Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee – Johnny Otis

Or if you prefer something more contemporary –

  • Worn Me Down – Rachael Yamagata
  • July Flame – Laura Veirs
  • Evil Is Alive and Well – Jakob Dylan
  • The Littlest Birds – The Be Good Tanya’s
  • Worrisome Heart – Melody Gardot
  • Hate Me – Blue October
  • Far Far – Yael Naïm
  • Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry
  • Highway 61 Revisited – Karen O
  • All I Want – Toad The Wet Sprocket
  • Real Love – Regina Spektor

             I could go on and on with Wine and Music Playlists – a Jazz Playlist, a Pop/Rock Playlist, a Country Swing Playlist, a Blues Playlist, a World Music Playlist. But let’s say the party is over now. You’ve decided to leave the dishes until the morning. There’s just you and your special loved one left. You’re both tired but need to relax a little before bed. You pour two last big glasses of a good Cabernet. You sit back, turn the volume down, and put on the Song Classics Playlist

  • I’ve Got A Crush On You – Anna Maria Alberghetti
  • Sleep Warm – Dean Martin
  • Haunted Heart – Jo Stafford
  • Don’t Wait Too Long – Frank Sinatra
  • Cry Me A River – Julie London
  • Isn’t This A Lovely Day – Fred Astaire
  • It’s Easy To Remember – Billie Holiday
  • Tonight (Perfidia) – Tony Martin
  • Don’t Smoke In Bed – Peggy Lee
  • Two Sleepy People – Hoagy Carmichael

Of course my choices in wine and music are highly subjective. What Wine and Music pairings would you offer?

Bill Stobbs, ABC Wine Supervisor


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