“I hope you know this will all go down on your permanent record…”

by Katie Pizzuto on June 10, 2009

in music,Uncategorized,WBW,Wine

CDofferI was sitting at the kitchen table with a black sleeping mask over my eyes, a set of bright blue Skull Candy headphones with a screaming face on them over my ears, and 3 glasses of wine in front of me, when my son and his friend came bounding up the steps. The friend must’ve done a double-take because my son, ever the developing wino, said “Oh, that’s just my mom. She’s doing a wine tasting to see how music effects how you taste wine.” Next thing I knew, my son was pulling one end of the headphones off my ear and yelling into my ear, “Ma, I want my headphones back when you’re done with them, OK?”

So what? So I borrow my kid’s A/V equipment…be happy I’m not waxing eloquent about my 8-track player or my reel-to-reel.

I had purchased a malbec, an aglianico and a monastrell, but I had no idea which dark inky wine was in each of the numbered glasses. I tasted all 3 in silence (the headphones do a nice job of blocking noise!) and took some tasting notes. Here were my initial, silent thoughts on the wines:

#1 – Very tight. Not offering much in aromatics other than some bitter chocolate. A little bit hot. Some gameyness to it. (Juan Gil 2007 Jumilla – Monastrell)

#2 – Berries and lovely earth on the nose. Spice & tobacco. Tart finish. (Gascón 2007 – Malbec)

#3 – Lighter berries than #2 and some smoke. Also a little bit tight. (Ars Poetica 2003 – Aglianico del Vulture)

Then I hit the “shuffle” mode on my iPod and essentially let the lions out of their cages. I listened to no less than 14 songs from completely different genres of music, and tasted all 3 wines with each song to see what paired well (or poorly) with what. The reason for the blindfold was so that I could focus strictly on taste/aroma and sound. By the time I was done, I felt like a wet noodle that had been slapped up against the wall—and I mean that in the best way possible. I’m still recovering from the sensory overload. This is all kinda new to me, so I wasn’t sure how to approach the data once I had it. In the absence of any sane ideas, I decided to do what I usually do—make it up as I go. Here, for starters, are the songs I listened to in my enological cocoon:

“Skin and Bones” (Foo Fighters) – Live and unplugged, it’s an eerie sort of rock song with a marching drum pattern.

“Little Drop of Poison” (Tom Waits) – A tango-like arrangement with a piano. Tom’s voice is ever gruffy and raspy, and there’s a high falsetto in the background.

“Do Me Good” (Amy Winehouse) – Sexy R&B groove, sultry voice.

“Fake Plastic Trees” (Radiohead) – Ethereal male voice, slow tempo, string accompaniment.

“Aces High” (Iron Maiden) – Fast tempo, heavy metal, harmonious electric guitars

“Mosh” (Eminem) – Rap, slow marching tempo

“New York Mining Disaster” (Bee Gees) – Mostly a cappella vocal harmonies

“Nature Boy” (Jon Hassell) – Trumpet/flute jazz with 2 melodies that are counterpoint rather than harmonious

“Game Plan” (Bob Schneider) – Hard rock with electric guitars and repetitive patterns

“No Hay Cama Pa‘ Tanta Gente” (El Gran Combo) – Salsa with horns and lots of percussion

“Radio Radio” (Elvis Costello) – Punk-influenced new wave/rock with keyboards

“Sex on Fire” (Kings of Leon) – Syncopated rhythm, strained rock voice

“Concerto #3” (Sergei Rachmaninoff) – Intense piano piece

“Sir Duke” (Stevie Wonder) – Swinging funk with lots of horns

No, I didn’t include any country music. You can find that wine pairing over at the “My Girl Left Me, My Dog Died, My Boss is a Jerk and I Love My Country” website. Other than some Johnny Cash, I don’t listen to much country, though I guess I probably should have in the interest of science. Shit. Oh well.

Rather than give you my notes on how each wine changed with the music (and in the interest of keeping this from becoming a doctoral dissertation instead of a blog post) I’ll see if I can summarize what I found to be some amazing observations:

1.    Apparently Tom Waits, Radiohead, Jazz, Salsa and Classical music are VERY temperamental with your wines. None of the 3 wines tasted pleasurable with these pieces and my guess (though I’d have to experiment more) is that they need extremely heavy-handed wines that have been allowed to open up for some time, because everything tasted weak, or tart, or tight, or bland or thin while listening to them.

2.    On the contrary, R&B, Funk, Rock and New Wave are much more forgiving. Overall, the 3 wines had positive notes across the board with these types of music.

3.    Best combos according to the tasting notes were: “Game Plan” with wine #1, “Radio Radio” with #2 and “Do Me Good” with #3.

OK, must go nap now. Whew.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Yvette June 10, 2009

I mostly wanted to beat Linsey to the first comment, but also wanted to tell you that the Tom Waits song was one of Holly’s favorites when she was 5!! As you know I haveto live my wine life vicariously through you, but being a music person I can say that the different tunes affect more than just the taste of the wine, they can alter your mood by bringing back a memory, good, bad or otherwise, conjuring spiritual introspection or just causing your foot to tap!


2 Linsey June 10, 2009

hey no fair! lmfao

wonder if chocolate tasting and music has the same effect as the wine tasting


3 Dr. Debs June 10, 2009

Katie: the comments closed on the original post, so I’m hoping it’s ok to post my link here. http://goodwineunder20.blogspot.com/2009/06/wine-blogging-wednesday-58-wine-woman.html


4 Katie Pizzuto June 10, 2009

no worries Deb! Thanks for the head’s up…i’ll reopen comments on the post as well!!


5 ribbie June 10, 2009

Nice of your son to let you borrow his headphones. My daughter stole my Sennheiser earbuds and won’t give them back.

I’m really impressed by the quality of your tunes and wine mix. Jon Hassell!!! Far Out! I guess I’m not his only fan. Not surprised Radiohead didn’t do much for the wine. I had a similar letdown with Stereolab. Elvis and the Gascon Malbec – I’m fans of both and will definitely have to give this pairing a try.

Great post and theme!


6 wrtish June 10, 2009

Katie, this is really interesting. I can imagine the impact of the wine and music could be magnified if you spent the length of one song on one wine, then {maybe after a little nibble} moved on to the next, and so on. You’d be kinda like a WJ as opposed to a DJ. You rocked WBW with this topic, that’s for damn sure!


7 Diane Letulle June 11, 2009

Really loved this experience — totally fun & very revealing. Cheers, Diane


8 The Wine Commonsewer June 11, 2009

I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a pre-frontal lobotomy.—Tom Waits

What is more country than that?


9 The Wine Commonsewer June 11, 2009

BTW, this is the left coast, it’s really only 10:39.


10 art predator June 11, 2009

pretty funny! My post is in process but there’s some notes up here:


11 BrixChick Liza June 11, 2009

Ha! I do not recommend country!
THanks! THis was fun!


12 Katie Pizzuto June 11, 2009

@Ribbie….believe it or not, this was the tip of the iceberg with my musical tastes…I’m all over the map! I wanted to include things like System of a Down, Portishead, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Fugees, The White Stripes, etc. but this would have gone ridiculously long!!

@Tish…WJ, gotta remember that one at parties! Perhaps I’ll start adding the title to my business cards too! 🙂

@Mike…Tom Waits may have country influences at times, but the man is certainly NOT country. He’s one of my favorites.

@everyone else…THANKS SO MUCH for the excitement…I’m really glad everyone got a kick out of this topic. And hey, still waiting for comments with the ULTIMATE wine/music pairing for the CD giveaway!! Come on peeps!!!


13 mydailywine June 11, 2009

Not much of a country music fan myself but highly recommend Kasey Chambers, especially for drinking!


14 beth - the wine school of philadelphia June 12, 2009

I’m a huge country fan as it were (Carter Family, Louvin Brothers, Gram, Kris, Willie, Waylon, and the Boys,), but must agree, when pairing country music with wine, my hand always reaches right for the bourbon.

Great post, Katie!


15 Coupe 60 June 12, 2009

Hi Katie this is your email… I’m giving you the finger…(inside joke)


16 Coupe 60 June 12, 2009

Very interesting posting btw, the one thing I wonder about, and a variable that may not be taken care of is the fact that 14 songs have to run a good 45min-hour or so. I wonder what impact air time has on the wines for the later songs as opposed to just the music…

and as one last aside, did the Juan Gil ever open up? I just bought a bottle of that and was kinda pissed after seeing your initial thoughts on it…


17 Katie Pizzuto June 12, 2009

Air time def. helped the wines and next time, I’d definitely give them more time to open up BEFORE starting the process…Hindsight is 20/20. As for the Juan Gil, I’d let that puppy breathe for a couple of hours. I LOVE monastrell, and have had the wine before which is why I got it, but was a bit disappointed. It may just’ve been a bumb bottle cuz, like I said, I’ve had it before and it was really good.


18 Giorgia June 16, 2009

Ok! Ready to go. I got everything! I got your songs list and wines. I am gonna buy wines this friday and do the “experiment” with other friends! I’ll let you know and compare those results with mine.
I hope you don’t mind if I drink a Nero d’Avola instead of a monastrell…It’s just easier to find


19 Katie June 16, 2009

No, Giorgia, I don’t mind the switch at all! It’s a good choice, as would be a primitivo if you can find that…both dark, inky wines. I look forward to hearing about your findings!!


20 The Wine Commonsewer June 17, 2009

Wine always tastes better when the wind is howling, there’s a fire (real wood-no fargin glowing gas or magic presto logs) warming the room, and Stan Getz is on the turntable.


21 Linsey June 17, 2009

in my view most things are better at those times – hehe


22 Julius June 18, 2009

CHAKRA SUITE by Steve Halpern paired with a 2003 Guigal La-La wine.


23 jshively June 19, 2009

I love the Femmes!!!!!!!!!!

Amy’s first album was great especially F*** me pumps. Now I am torn by your music list which freaking songs I want to listen to on nanner.

Have a great vacation!


24 Katie Pizzuto June 23, 2009

Hey all…back from the blast in Key West! CD winners will be contacted today. Thanks for all the love.


25 Steve Jones June 24, 2009

Any Mozart and a nice, dry German Sekt. Light and airy sounds with a light and airy wine.

Beethoven Symphony #9 and Petite Syrah. Heavy and dense yet it can be joyful spirited.

Italian opera and Barolos. Big tenor and soprano singers with big voices need a big wine.

The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Album and Conundrum White Wine. Two conundrums at the same time!

Amy Winehouse and Boxed Wine. If you have to go through Rehab with her then drinking something good just doesn’t seem right.


26 Steve Jones June 25, 2009

I wonder if different music makes wine decant differently. Could sound have an impact on the chemistry? Hmmm…


27 Katie Pizzuto June 25, 2009

I’ll tell you this much, Steve…I’m going to do a round-up of what the different bloggers took away from this experiment, but I truly believe, and so do certain others, that music can effect how the wine smells/tastes. As for actually changing chemistry through sound waves, that I can’t answer. But we need to understand that our brains receive several million messages through our 5 senses EVERY SECOND. Unfortunately, only about 18 of those messages get processed as thoughts, so there’s a whole lot getting lost in the process. My guess is that listening to certain musical structures may interpret the messages going from the mouth to the brain differently.


28 Giorgia June 25, 2009

Right Kate! It’s like a ‘scotoma’. Brain process only certain informations…It’s like when you open the drawer looking for that pair of socks but you can’t find them: and they are there! Maybe because we don’t like them or just because they are not mine…I think that listening to music can deeply affect your wine tasting. Maybe only if you love music as much as wine…


29 John July 2, 2009

When will you be releasing your “Wine Tasting Compilation” album? Eclectic mix, I love it.


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