Thursday, June 11, 2009

If music be the food of love, play on -- WBW #58

O.K., so Shakespeare was talking about love, not wine, but if you reach in far enough, there’s an appropriate metaphor about music enhancing one’s experiences, whether they be falling in love or wine-tasting.

For this eye-opening experiment I tasted two wines with each track:

Channing Daughters
Rosata / Cabernet Sauvignon
Mudd Vineyard



1) Artist: Moby CD: Hotel/Ambient Disk Track: 1

For my first tasting, I felt that the pulsing bass line and throbbing synth overwhelmed this gentle pink wine.

With the Barolo, I noticed the smokey nose and meaty flavor distinctly. The Barolo was a better match for Moby’s intellectual reaching on this Phillip Glass-like track. But, the pulsing rhythm outran the mellow appeal of the wine.

Result: Double Fail

2) Artist: Belle and Sebastian CD: Boy with the Arab Strap Track: Sleep the Clock Around

I really like the high energy and light harmonizing on vocals. Belle & Sebastian is a Scottish band that provides bouncy pop music with a twist. The song was a great match to the Rosato’s strawberry punch. This wine is fun and so is this tune.

Drinking the Barolo while listening to the same song, I’m less aware of the high-pitched vocals and more clued into the deeper acoustic guitar strum and bass line that run under the happy sounding voices. I’m compelled to grab the lyric sheet to find the dark words that lie hidden like the Loch Ness in their bubble-gum pop sound…”And could this be the time when somebody will come/To say ‘Look at yourself, you’re not much use to anyone.’” The Barolo was not a natural match, but somehow the music lightened the wine’s serious palate, and the wine brought out the gravity in the song.
Result: Good pairing with Rosato, Qualified success with Barolo

3) Artist: Taking Back Sunday CD: Louder Now Track: Liar, Liar

This is a fast-paced song with drilling bass lines. The young band offers tight musicality, but this close-but-not-quite-headbanging (head nodding?) tune is best played loud. The rollicking guitars on the break overwhelm my poor rosé, although the tart fruit nose is definitely sharper when smelled against the backdrop of this song.

When I replay the song for my Barolo, I notice the length on the wine much more. Its heavy tannic structure is blunting Taking Back Sunday’s best attempt to capture my sensory perception…the finish on the wine coincides with an awesome guitar neck slide, which is a cool moment in the tasting/listening. But this match is too competitive: my ears and mouth are fighting for my brain’s attention. Love these, but separately.

Result: Double Fail

4) Artist: Kate Bush CD: The Whole Story Track: Wuthering Heights

Kate’s eerie high voice sings about the moors of England and the ghostly romance of Wuthering Heights. This pairing is a triumph. The berry flavors of the wine put me in mind of the fresh-mown English lawns and gardens in spring bloom, rosebushes which Cathy’s gowns may have swept by. This song is based on my favorite novel, a Gothic romance, and it lends a depth to the Rosato. With its deep salmon color, the wine even appears to be a romantic choice. Its sweet fruit structure is heightened by the ghostly Cathy’s soulful howling at the end of the track. Beautiful.

“Oh it gets dark, it gets lonely,” sings Kate Bush, channeling the ghost of Cathy. The Gothic drama of this dark tale of star-crossed lovers is underscored by this big, complicated Italian wine, which reminds me of the broad-shouldered, heavy browed hero Heathcliff to whom she sings. The finish lingers and Kate plaintively sings while a rich guitar riff extends the melodic vocal line. This pairing is the clear winner of the night.

Result: The Rosato is Cathy, the Barolo is Heathcliff, both pairings enrich each other.


  1. He won't let her into his window or let her have it, let her grab his soul -- her master, that cool Heathcliff!

  2. Isn't that song the best? I love the story.

  3. I like the Pat Benatar version, myself.