The Perfect Harmony: Pairing Wine and Music
Wine pairing is the intentional practice of harmonising complementary flavours in food and wine to enhance the enjoyment of each element and elevate the dining experience. When we think of wine pairing, we often imagine small dishes with vibrant flavours, perfectly matched with glasses of wine. But what if we could expand this concept beyond taste?
The Science Behind Pairing Wine and Music
Your first thought may be that wine and music have little in common. However, several studies have explored the effects of music on our perception of taste. Research suggests that music can influence the brain’s reward centres and emotional processing. Listening to music can put us in a certain mood and feel a specific emotion. This too has the ability to influence and alter how we experience flavours.
For instance, fast-paced, high-pitched, or upbeat music is typically associated with a preference for sweet and refreshing beverages. On the other hand, slow, mellow tunes tend to enhance the perception of complex, nuanced flavours, such as those found in aged red wines.
Creating a Multi-Sensory Experience
Music has been shown to influence the perceived acidity, sweetness, fruitiness, and astringency of wine (1). Imagine this: you’re sipping a velvety Cabernet Sauvignon while listening to a soulful jazz melody. As the music gently envelops your senses, you take another sip. Suddenly, the wine seems to reveal new layers of flavour, just like the music unveils unexpected nuances. This multi-sensory experience is the magic that wine and music pairings have to offer.
Finding the Perfect Match
Just as a sommelier carefully selects the perfect wine to complement certain dishes, choosing the right music to accompany your favourite wine requires a little bit of creativity and thoughtfulness.
Of course, there are no rules (e.g., you don’t have to exclusively listen to jazz), and personal preferences plays a significant role. However, there are several principles that will guide you to finding the perfect pairing.
- Match the intensity – bold and robust wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, often pair well with powerful music (think rock or powerful music). Sauvignon Blanc and other delicate wines go well with soft jazz or acoustic melodies. Fruity, sweet wines like Riesling are perfect while listening to indie rock music.
- Consider the mood – think about the mood you want to set. A romantic evening with a velvety Merlot could be complemented by R&B tunes, while a party with friends and rosé might call for some upbeat pop.
- Regional pairings – explore traditional wine regions and their local music to create a more immersive experience. For example, pair an Italian Chianti with classic Italian opera.
Try It For Yourself
Experiment and have fun – get creative! Mix and match different wines with various music genres to discover unique combinations that spark your senses.
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Reference – (1) Spence & Wang 2015.