Every so often, at one of our wine tastings, someone will educate us on an interesting little wine fact that we didn’t know. However there is one of these facts that has stuck in our head and very much like the movie Inception, that idea has grown and grown in our heads. The idea is: Music can affect the way a wine tastes. On the surface this all makes sense, your brain is in control of our sense of taste and the brain is susceptible to outside influence. So if rainy weather can make us feel sad or the colour orange can make people angry, why couldn’t music change the qualities of wine.

The man pioneering this idea is the American wine consultant Clark Smith. He has been researching this idea for decades and come up with some very interesting results. He has stated that certain genres of music suit different varieties and that wines should be played with certain moods. In the most general of terms, Clark suggests that reds prefer music that has a negative emotion, while whites prefer happier music. So what should we try:

Pinots and Jazz?

As far as I’m concerned, no wine can seduce someone like a Pinot Noir. It is the ultimate sensual experience, so it makes sense that Smiths research points to Pinots liking sexy music. Jazz is often thought to be a pretty sexy style of music and I can definitely see Feeling Good by Nina Simone working with a nice Pinot Noir.

Arcade Fire and Riesling?

Riesling apparently pairs well with something upbeat and cheerful but I just can’t see Riesling and pop music working together, it’s too mainstream. However alternative/indie music and Riesling I can very much see working together.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Metallica?

Clark’s research has proven that powerful and heavy music will make wines seem more powerful and heavy. With that in mind, I can fully see why Metallica might compliment the bold character of Cabernet Sauvignon. So, although many people may associate fine Bordeaux with classical music, Clark would suggest that if you wanted to listen to some Mozart, you would be better reaching for a bottle of Pinot Noir than a Chateau Margaux.

The overriding conclusion Clark reached is that there isn’t a “one song fits all” approach to wine. As with food and wine matching, each wine must be considered on its individual qualities. Which means that wine lovers and music lovers out there have a lot of experimenting to do. If you’ve found a great wine and music pairing, let us know.