Dr Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett, Mosel Germany 2020 (£15.99, Waitrose) There is a temptation to ridicule the attempts by wine retailers and writers to make something of matching wine with music. What is the goal, other than to show your superior taste in not one but two areas? It’s not like finding a wine to go with the food, since, even if you’re skeptical about how much it will affect your meal, you might at least accept that both elements work in the same sensory space. Academic research in this area, conducted by Professor Charles Spence of the University of Oxford, suggests that a musical wine match is much more than a whimsical idea. According to Spence, a wine like Loosen’s Mosel Riesling will taste more or less spicy, more or less lively, and be more or less enjoyable, depending on what you listen to.
Kozlovic Teran, Istria, Croatia 2020 (£14.25, filled wine) An intriguing insight from Spence’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory is the consistent correspondence between specific flavor elements and sounds. Most people associate bitterness, for example, with low-pitched sounds, while sweetness and acidity tend to go along with higher tones. You can see why a nice citrusy Reslyn Muselle like Loosen is consistently paired with high-pitched classical music like Vivaldi. I imagine the most difficult thing is wine like the wonderful Terran made by Kozlovic but it is full of challenges. A very bitter but attractive red wine, the sourness of perfectly ripe berries, and so sour that, in musical terms, it seems to correspond pretty much to something in opposition to Stockhausen or Einstürzende Neubauten.
Taylor’s LBV Harbor, Douro, Portugal 2017 (£10, Sainsbury’s) Research has shown that it is not only music that has specific effects on our sense of taste. There is a great deal of crossover between the senses, and tasting wine in the dark, in red light, or at different temperatures, will change the way we experience and describe it. Spence wrote of a Vietnamese café playing what he calls “sweet music” to bring out the sweetness in cakes and low-sugar pastries. But rather than this kind of daemon app that changes behavior, I think music and wine matching is the most useful as a way to characterize wine. To me, comparing the sumptuous, deep, and velvety richness of the excellent Port Taylor LBV, for example, is a nice romantic sweep kinda blue-era Miles Davis is a better way to remember what I liked about him than the list of fruit traits.
Follow David Williams on Twitter Tweet embed