Wine Blogging Wednesday 58: Pairing wine with music

14 June 2009
By Tom Mansell

I know, it’s Sunday and this is an entry for Wine Blogging Wednesday. I obviously do not get the point of this exercise. Anyway, this wine blogging wednesday I decided to go along with the theme, hosted by Katie of Gonzo Gastronomy.

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Thin-sliced ribeye, steamed broccoli raab, homemade cheese sauce, all on a toasted roll. Awesome sandwich, Sarah.

The theme resonates a bit with some things that I’ve been saying before on the blog. Mostly, I believe that your wine experience is largely influenced by your environment and psychology at the time. I put iTunes on random, tucked into a delicious homemade cheesesteak with broccoli raab made by Sarah (see picture), and popped a wine unlike any I’d had in quite a while. This should give you an idea of how I normally taste a wine. I like to go through the bottle, at least two glasses, taking time to observe nuances that may show up over time. I usually devote a whole evening to tasting a wine. Please, don’t judge my playlist.

Mollydooker “The Scooter” Merlot 2007
Appelation: South Australia
ABV: 16.0% (WHAT?!)
Price Point: $22
Notes:
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Warlocks This wine is big. Flea’s funky bass slaps along as I pick up some massively dark, black fruit on the nose, with vanilla and lots of heat.

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The Scooter

Meat Loaf: Out of the Frying Pan (and Into the Fire): Taking a taste, it’s bitter and sweet. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a good bit of residual sugar in this wine. I find this wine overwhelming and Wagnerian, much like the epic nature of pretty much every Meat Loaf song.

Grand Dérangement: Dieux de l’Univers: An Acadian group that sings in French. Made me think of Rémy Charest. I wonder if he did WBW this time. It also made me think, as the hugeness of this wine loomed, about French winemakers who complain about the “Parkerization” of wine. In case you don’t know, Robert M. Parker Jr. is widely considered the most powerful wine critic in the world. 90+ points from his publication, The Wine Advocate can sell out a wine practically overnight. A bad rating from him can be devastating. Thing about him is he tends to like wines like this. Big wines that are hugely oaked and overly extracted. I don’t deny anyone his own palate, and he has certainly built a great reputation. What is unfortunate is when winemakers make wines that Parker would like in order to gain “Parker points,” crafting wines to the palate of one man in Maryland. But we digress…

Simon & Garfunkel: Sounds of Silence (live) The wine is mellowing out, man. Or maybe I am just getting drunk on this ridiculous wine.

Phish: Scent of a Mule reminds me of {brettanomyces}. There is certainly nothing stinky or funky about this wine.

Man of La Mancha: What Do You Want of Me? Do you want me to like you, wine? I assume you do. So far, not really winning me over.

South Park: Merry Fucking Christmas A little non sequitur, but I do love the South Park “Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics” album. In a way, this song reminds me of the wine. Harsh and offensive to some, obnoxious, yet endearing to others. The wine’s beginning to grow on me.

The Beatles: A Day in the Life: This is the first song that has given me some time to actually concentrate on the wine. There is this bitterness* that resounds even through the big, almost {jammy} fruit. The orchestral ending to this song belies the initial cacophony of fruit and alcohol that resolves and ends on a slightly discordant note.

Songs for a New World: King of the World At this point, I’m about halfway through the bottle, and yeah, I feel like I’m king of the world, probably because I’m getting hammered.

Phish: The Squirming Coil another more contemplative song. This wine burns my mouth, kind of like Listerine. The ABV on Listerine is 21%, by the way.

Jewel: You Were Meant For Me Sorry baby, we had some good times, but I think you’re just too much for me.

Béla Fleck & the Flecktones: Lochs of Dread During this song I discovered the part of the label that is a stamp that you can rip off and conceivably place in a wine journal or something. Pretty cool.

Miles Davis: ‘Round Midnight This is great “bottom of the bottle” music. Pencil lead, celery seed, the wine is starting to reveal some complexity under its initially powerful and bulky first impression.  However, after a little break (smelling some fresh air and coming back) the wine is as obnoxious as ever coming back.

Overall, I found that the music was a more distracting than anything to my overall tasting experience.  Perhaps I was putting too much thought into the process, trying actively to pair the music up with the wine.  At any rate, I think that while my impression of the wine did sort of change over time, it didn’t really have anything to do with the music.  The music was more of a conversation starter, inspiring ideas for tasting notes rather than influencing my mood or perception.  Then again, that’s just me.  I really enjoyed the WBW theme, so kudos to Katie for hosting!

*Science!
Continuing our discussion on balance, a report from 1994 by Fischer and Noble (“The Effect of Ethanol, Catechin Concentration, and pH on Sourness and Bitterness of Wine”, AJEV) found that ethanol concentration increases the perception of bitterness in wine.  The researchers took de-alcoholized wine (alcohol removed by reverse osmosis), and evaluated bitterness with tasting panels for 8%, 11%, and 14% alcohol by volume.  With increasing ethanol concentration, the bitterness in the wine increased.  This could explain why a recurrent tasting note in the process of tasting this wine was a lingering bitterness.  Sixteen percent? Yikes.

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3 Responses to Wine Blogging Wednesday 58: Pairing wine with music

  1. Evan Dawson on 14 June 2009 at 10:20 am

    I’ve had a handful of Australian reds that smell and taste shockingly like Amarone – a bad, hotter-than-hell Amarone. 16 ABV makes me think this wine is in that group.

  2. [...] We anglophones have “Wine Blogging Wednesday“, in which I have participated twice so far. Francophones, on the other hand, have “Vendredi du Vin”, or “Wine Friday”. [...]

  3. Reader mail: Non-alcoholic wine? « Ithacork on 22 September 2009 at 5:00 pm

    [...] of science) and none of them really taste like wine to me. Alcohol actually does much for the body and especially the acid balance of wine. Alcohol-removed wine to me tastes extremely [...]

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