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Music and wine: ideal partners




One of my office compatriots has suggested that I write about the relationship between music and wine as this is a particularly significant week in my life for sound in general.

I am testing a tiny microelectronic device that samples the sounds around me 56,000 times per second, and compensates for damage to my right ear caused by a virus. It is breathtaking!

In 2011, a series of taste tests at an English university caused The Telegraph newspaper to report, “A new study reveals wine drinkers should also consider what's playing on the stereo if they want the perfect tipple.

The study shows that people who drink wine while listening to music perceive the wine to have the same taste characteristics of the particular artist.”

The conclusion from the 250 tasters was: “These results indicate that the symbolic function of auditory stimuli (in this case, music) may influence perception in other modalities (in this case, taste).”

Such experiments have been done in our home and also at a friend's residence in Napa Valley and, without a doubt, music does affect taste (smell).

It is the summer of 1977 and my new companion takes me to a legendary rock club called the Stone Toad. Styx has just released their Grand Illusion album and they filled the air with magical intensity and power.

As I played the old album yesterday (testing the ear), I wondered what wine would do it justice?

It would have to be complex, but have power and balance — in fact, be what is often referred to as a blockbuster.

I think of Mollydooker 2016 Enchanted Path , an Australian beauty that displays an inky deep colour with dense hues. The journey begins with fragrant bright-red fruit on the nose, followed by deeper tones of blackberry and plum jam on the palate.

Well guided by precise tannins, these flavours will fully entertain your senses, giving the wine phenomenal length.

The captivating interplay between the shiraz and cabernet provides a sophisticated mix of plum and mocha, walking beside raspberry and clove.

I will let Robert Parker back me up: “A blend of 70 per cent shiraz (the same wine that goes into Carnival of Love) and 30 per cent cabernet sauvignon, the 2016 Enchanted Path is an awesome blend of fine aromas and rich flavours. Mint and cassis spark the nose, while the full-bodied palate delivers intense chocolate, plum and dark berry notes that finish long and velvety. At this level and above, the oak is secondary to the fruit. 96/100.”

Give us $85.10 and listen to Styx playing Show Me the Way. Magical!

It is now 1978 and we are on our first wine trip to California together. A band is playing in Oakland and we are advised to see them with their new vocalist Steve Perry.

Yesterday, when I listened to Wheel in the Sky, I thought of 40 years of loving the phenomenal music of Journey.

I have the perfect wine and it has just arrived here for the first time.

Orin Swift 2017 Slander pinot noir from California is described by the winemaker in this way: “Pinot noir and Orin Swift Cellars have had a unique relationship over the years. With this being only the fourth release of Slander, our experimentation and trials with pinot noir go back many years prior.

“Our signature style of finding the highest-quality grapes, picking without hesitation and being gentle with the fruit during fermentation is of utmost importance.

“What results is a final blend of fruit sourced from the Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley and Sta Rita Hills AVAs.”

Kirsch, raspberries, red currants and chocolate work with the music and the long, smooth finish enhances the remarkable vocals of Perry. $84.40.

The year is now 2005 and it is time for our youngest son, at 17, to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and so we find ourselves in an amphitheatre on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Although Dylan comments that he did not expect quite so many decibels, I do not think that very intense wine is needed; maybe one that dances with the music.

Italy and our friend, Pio Boffa, and a wine from the winery that his grandfather founded seems to fill the bill for me.

Pio Cesare Barbera d' Alba 2016, from the Piedmont region, is smooth with ripe fruit and very good structure.

Critic James Suckling writes: “Very fresh and aromatic with roses and blueberries. Dried strawberries and cherries. Medium-bodied, firm and rich. Yet, very lively and focused. An intense finish. 91/100.” $33.20 . We served it to about 70 folks this past Saturday and it was indeed quite classic.

We finish, for now, in April of 2013 at Radio City Music Hall, at probably the most awe-inspiring musical experience of our lives and sadly one of the last performances by the man who wrote, “there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in”.

Pure genius from Leonard Cohen.

I understand that fine, classified bordeaux was his favourite and the one in particular that The Wine Cellar Insider describes in this way: “The nose is developing nicely with its tobacco, smoke, cedar chest, earth, mint, blackberry and stone profile. The wine is powerful, fresh, long, structured to age and tannic, finishing with a powerful, clean, black cherry and cassis finish.

“In 2013, the 1995 vintage was the first in a series of vintages to be re-released by the château after they announced the wines would no longer be sold as a ‘future'. The wines are differentiated by the anti-counterfeiting measures on the label, bottle and capsule.”

We can supply you with a bottle of Château Latour 1995 Premier Grand Cru Classé Pauillac but, unless you are a very successful poet, songwriter or musician, you may not wish to part with $1,040.95 .

Please be mindful that life is too short to drink cheap wine.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit

Expensive taste: the late singer, Leonard Cohen, enjoyed Château Latour 1995 Premier Grand Cru Classé Pauillac. If you can splash the cash then you can get it at Burrows Lightbourn for $1,040.95 (Photograph submitted)




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Published October 25, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated October 25, 2019 at 2:03 pm)

Music and wine: ideal partners

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