Dr Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett, Mosel Germany 2020 (£15.99, Waitrose) There’s a temptation to mock attempts made by wine retailers and writers to make a thing out of matching wine with music. What, other than demonstrating your superior taste in not one but two fields, is the point? It’s not like finding a wine to go with food, where, even if you’re sceptical of the extent to which it makes a difference to your meal, you might at least accept that both elements are working in the same sensory space. Academic research in the field by Professor Charles Spence of Oxford University, suggests the music-wine match is far more than a whimsical idea, however. According to Spence, a wine such as Loosen’s Mosel Riesling will taste more or less spicy, more or less racy, and will be more or less enjoyable, depending on what you’re listening to.
Kozlovic Teran, Istria, Croatia 2020 (£14.25, Shelved Wine) An intriguing insight from Spence’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory is the consistent correspondence between certain flavour elements and sounds. Most people associate bitterness, for example, with low-pitched sounds, while sweetness and sourness tend to correspond with higher pitches. You can see why gently sweet, tangily acidic Mosel rieslings such as Loosen’s are consistently paired with high-toned, melodic classical music such as Vivaldi. More difficult, I imagine, are wines such as Kozlovic’s wonderful but challenging Teran. A red wine that is highly but attractively bitter, brightly just-ripe-berry sour, and searingly acidic, in musical terms, it sounds like it most closely matches something discordant by Stockhausen or Einstürzende Neubauten.
Taylor’s LBV Port, Douro, Portugal 2017 (£10, Sainsbury’s) Research has shown that it’s not just music that has identifiable effects on our tastebuds. There is a great deal of crossover between the senses, and tasting wine in the dark, or in red light, or in different temperatures, will change how we experience and describe it. Spence has written about a Vietnamese café that plays what he calls ‘sweet music’ to accentuate the sweetness in their reduced-sugar cakes and pastries. But rather than this kind of subtle, behaviour-altering application, I reckon music and wine matching is most useful as a way of pinning down a wine’s characteristics. For me, comparing the sumptuous, deep, velvety richness of Taylor’s excellent LBV Port to, say, the suave romantic sweep of Kind of Blue-era Miles Davis is a better way of remembering what I liked about it than a list of fruity adjectives.
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July 17, 2022 at 11:09AM David Williams