Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Imbibing to Music

(A short sabbatical is in order - So, for the next few weeks, we'll take a look back at some older posts: This one is from 2012 about the affects of music on wine drinking.)

 
Music is said to have charms to sooth a savage breast, but did you know it could also influence what wine you buy?  And, it can also affect how that wine tastes to you, depending on what type of music is playing.



Numerous studies in the past twenty years have indicated that music and wine are closely linked, and that music can heavily influence a person’s decision about which wine to buy.  Wine, it seems, echoes our surroundings and our feelings.  This may be part of the reason that professional wine judging events are held in silence; to give the judges a chance to “hear” the wine and interact with it.


A study on the type of music played in grocery stores and how that influenced  what wines were purchased was administered by Adrian North and colleagues in 1997 at Leicester University.  Nearly 80% of shoppers in the study purchased the type of wine that corresponded to the kind of music playing in the background; When French accordion music was playing, 77% of wines purchased were French.   When traditional German music (Oomph music) was heard, 73% of the wine sold was German. But when 44 of the store customers were asked if they believed the music had affected their choice, only one person said yes.

The results of this study suggested that you would be 3 to 4 times more likely to purchase a wine that matched the music playing in the store as a wine that did not match it.


Stores and restaurants have known for quite some time that playing classical music will influence shoppers to purchase more expensive wines, and to spend longer in their establishments, thereby purchasing more wines and food.

The pace of the music can also influence how quickly and how much you drink.  Reports have shown that when faster, upbeat music is played, restaurant and bar patrons drink more alcohol, wine and beer.  But when slow, mournful music is heard, drinking slows, sales decrease, and the restaurant or bar gets (depressingly)quiet.


The rationale for this music-wine connection says that playing happy music with a happy wine, (Chardonnay or Muscato) will open it up more, making it more enjoyable. Chardonnay may be perceived as being confident and fresh when paired with pop music. 

A darker, moodier wine (think Cabernet or Syrah,) paired with low, brooding music will make both seem darker and morose.


Simply put, music can change our perception of the taste of the wine.  If the music and the wine have the same basic feel or values, they will pair well together and compliment each other’s vibe.

That means  music may help the wine seem even smoother or fruitier when paired with certain songs.  If paired poorly, the wine may test harsh or astringent.




Clark Smith, winemaker at Diamond Ridge Vineyards, has been testing these theories and drawing some interesting conclusions. According to Smith, “Red wines need either minor key or they need music that has negative emotion. They don't like happy music. With expensive reds, don't play music that makes you giggle. Pinots like sexy music. Cabernets like angry music. It's very hard to find a piece of music that's good for both Pinot and Cabernet.” “Red wines need either minor key or they need music that has negative emotion. They don't like happy music. With expensive reds, don't play music that makes you giggle. Pinots like sexy music. Cabernets like angry music. It's very hard to find a piece of music that's good for both Pinot and Cabernet.”

Adrian North (of the grocery–music study mentioned above) has also done a scientific study into the  wine-music correlation at of Heriot Watt University in England.   His latest research shows that background music influenced the taste of the wine by up to 60%.  Of 250 students studied, the results showed that the music did effect the drinker’s perception of the wine on a consistent basis.  Again, Cabernet lends its self to moody, heavy “powerful and heavy” music and a Chard responds better to “zingy and refreshing” songs.

North’s study offers four types of music, a song suggestion and the wine to pair it with.  Here are just a few examples:

Wine                           Type of Music             Song & Artist                          
Cabernet                  Powerful & Heavy     Won’t Get Fooled Again-Who
                                              
                                         
Syrah                       Subtle & Refined         Canon –Pachelbel                 
                                                          
Merlot                      Mellow & Soft           Over the Rainbow – Eva Cassidy        
                                                           

Chardonnay             Zingy & Refreshing         Atomic – Blondie
                              

Want to try it yourself? Clark Smith offers a one-hour recorded seminar called Mysterious Resonances. “By utilizing brain scan technologies that enhance our understanding of music, Smith demonstrates how harmony in wine and music are linked”. The cost is $9.99  and the seminar is available at http://store.payloadz.com/details/972771-video-educational-mysterious-resonances-pairing-wine-and-music.html


The wine-music connection is intriguing.  It may someday encourage winemakers to recommend music selections on their wine labels to pair with their wines - A sort of balance in harmony.  Wine and music, just another way to enjoy!

~ Joy