Wine touches our senses and affects our mood. So does music. Is it any surprise that wine and music go well together?
Does our choice of wine to go with dinner have any influence on the music that we choose to accompany the meal? I expect this decision is intuitive, at best, for most of us. We pick a wine that we like, perhaps choosing something that we hope will pair well with the food. But do we do the same when we decide which favorite tracks to bring up to set the mood? Do specific wines pair well with specific tunes? Does Bordeaux go with Beethoven, for example, while The Beatles require Pinot Noir?
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“The study of music and wine as a subset is also a popular topic, one of which has seen its fair share of research. Much like wine and food, some believe that there are perfect wine and music pairings, and that maybe we might see music playlists paired alongside the wine lists at a restaurant,” Yeamans-Irwin wrote in an Aug. 10, 2017 post, “Wine and Music ‘Pairing’ Preferences Driven by Emotion: A [Very] Brief Look.”
Research has already shown that music really can influence one’s enjoyment of wine, a finding that isn’t likely to surprise anyone. Little is known, though, about exactly how and why this happens; it could be driven by emotional responses. Academic Wino reports on a recent study published in the journal Beverages, “Assessing the Role of Emotional Associations in Mediating Crossmodal Correspondences between Classical Music and Red Wine.” (You can click the preceding link for a look at the abstract.)
This study looked for ways to determine if there are in fact “shared emotional associations between wine and music, and if these associations drive an individuals’ evaluation of the wine-music pair.”
Briefly told – you’re welcome to follow the links above to imbibe the reports in full – researchers selected three classical-music passages that varied in tempo, key, and instrumentation: Sophia Giustani Dussek’s “Harp Sonata in C Minor,” in fast tempo and major key; Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Romance,” in slow tempo, minor key; and “O Fortuna” from Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” in medium tempo, minor key.
They also selected three red wines: Domaine Pellé Menetou-Salon Morogues Pinot Noir, 2014, light body, soft tannins, high acidity; The Society’s Blind Spot 2014 GSM, full body, soft tannins, low acidity; and Scacciadiavoli Montefalco Rosso, 2012, full body, big tannins, high acidity.
After serving the wines in varying combinations with the music and, in one round, without music for a group of 21 individuals with varying degrees of wine knowledge, researchers did find some consistent responses. Participants did tend to pair the most “exiting” and “powerful” selection, “O Fortuna,” with the wine that garnered similar associations for excitement and power, the Montefalco Rosso, while Rachmaninoff’s “Romance” was rated as eliciting the greatest emotional associations for “sad,” seemed to attract people to the Blind Spot GSM.
Overall, writer Yeamans-Irwin said, “this brief study confirmed what is already known about wine and music and that certain songs seem to ‘pair’ well with certain types of wines. Additionally, the results seemed to support the idea that emotions might, at least in part, drive … preference for a certain music and wine pairing type. In other words, people are more likely to prefer a wine-music ‘pairing’ where the wine and musical number share similar emotional response ratings. If these results are accurate, then it may be possible to come up with the ‘perfect’ playlist for a wine tasting event.”
Researchers acknowledged that the study fell well short of rigor. The sample size was tiny, the wines were relatively similar, and the musical selections were all classical. Still, it’s a fascinating topic. What do you think? Do you often choose a dinner wine to match your dinner music, or vice-versa? Tell us about it on the WineLovers Discussion Group or our WineLovers Facebook Page.