We usually do three things when drinking wine: look at it, smell it and taste it. We activate three of our five senses to understand what’s going on in the glass.
I propose we go further by incorporating sound and touch. Surely what we’re listening to while experiencing a wine has some effect? Oh, did you think I was going to tell you to stick your ear to the glass? Perhaps metaphorically you could listen to what your wine is telling you, but for now, I mean music. Sweet music.
On September 1, many musical moments took place. From Mozart’s 1785 publishing of the 6th string quartet Op. 10 (what would become better known as the “Haydn” Quartets) to David Bowie’s 1972 UK release of “John, I’m Only Dancing,” ears around the world have ample reason for gratitude on this day. In fact, on September 1, 1887, Emile Berliner filed his first patent for the Gramophone, which gave way to the mass-production of records. Music lovers everywhere rejoiced!
When sipping a wine, try it with different songs and genres, see how the experience evolves. Perhaps something by Bocelli when drinking our 2013 IOsonoDonatella Brunello di Montalcino? After all, both were born in Tuscany. We pair regional foods and wines, why not with musicians as well? And then there’s touch. We already do this when evaluating a wine’s texture, or “mouthfeel”. We just cram it all under the umbrella of taste.
Wine is usually around 80 percent water, but the other 20 percent is full of texture via tannin, alcohol and glycerol, acid and sugar, as well as dry extract—what’s left when you take away the water, so basically, intensity and concentration. When our mouths touch wine, we have sensations of silk, velvet, sandpaper, etc. We feel it.
Evaluating texture is especially useful in blind tastings. For example, arguably some of the best Chenin Blanc comes from the Anjou region, in Savennièrres to be exact. A dead giveaway between these and others from say those of Saumur is all about texture. Savennièrres is a land full of schist, which is all about power, creating thicker, stern wines with a spine.
That may be way too deep, but at least for now, think about what you’re feeling in the next sip. And then think about what sounds would make the moment round.