Most of us enjoy relaxing with a decent glass of vino while listening to some music or watching a movie. It’s my view that certain wine styles and varietals go better with specific music and movies than others and studies have shown that music can change how wine tastes.
Matching wine to music involves structure and mood/emotion. By matching the overall structure or individual components of a wine to the structure of a musical piece, the experience should pull together. But more importantly, it’s how a piece of music makes you feel, evoking certain emotions or moods, that best reflects which wine will work better.
Structurally speaking, you can match wine’s components and their qualities to certain styles of music or instruments. Bright, deeply coloured wine works best with lively music, while garnet or older looking ones match country tunes. Delicate aromas or flavours in wine call for softer music and aggressive, bolder notes cry out for louder. Flower and red fruit nuances play nicely with lively tunes (strings, horns). However, dark fruit implies bolder sounds (bass, deeper brass like trombone and tuba). Oaky wines require percussive music and earthy minerality leans toward keyboards. Light bodied/lower alcohol vinos mesh with light, airy instrumentation (acoustic guitars, strings). Medium-bodied/medium alcohol in a wine requires more bottom end (deeper vocals, bass, electric guitar). Full-bodied/higher alcohol dances nicely with progressive music (experimental, avant-garde, hip hop).
Soft, ripe tannins are what are needed for female vocals whereas aggressive, hard tannins lean toward male vocals. Low or average acidity and folk shines. High acid and heavy rock or metal is the musical ticket.
More generally, one can match wine to specific music genres. For country music, give Zinfandel a go. Classic rock needs a full, dry red (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Nebbiolo). Classical is all about Champagne or red Bordeaux. If you like Indie or alternative styles of music, Riesling is your answer. Gotta love Pinot Noir or Merlot with jazz! Rap and hip hop followers, vie for Sauvignon Blanc or orange wine. Folk lovers out there will dig Semillon or Riesling. Electro-pop? Check out a light red (Gamay, Beaujolais).
A full, dry white (Chardonnay) or aromatic sweeter white (Moscato) works wonders with pop. Latin fans will want to get down with a spicy red (Shiraz/Syrah). Bubbly or red Burgundy dances with opera while Chenin Blanc or Vouvray delivers with funk. And if R & B is your thing, then Tempranillo is the answer.
When it comes to matching wine to movies, the character of the wine should mesh with the overall mood of the movie. However, if a movie focuses on a specific grape variety (Pinot Noir in “Sideways”) then match that wine.
Otherwise, for an adventure movie, try a light, crisp white (Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling). Action movies call for a medium-bodied red (Merlot). Bio-pics need a medium-dry white (Chenin Blanc). A light, crisp white (Pinot Grigio) works well with comedies and medium-bodied red (Cabernet Franc) does it for dramas. Historical/epics play nice with fortified samples (Port, Sherry).
If horror is your sweet spot, then Cabernet Sauvignon will soothe. Kung Fu lovers gotta have an exotic/aromatic white (Gewurztraminer, Torrontes). Musicals sing with bubbly and love stories embrace Pinot Noir. If romantic comedy tickles you, then a light red (Gamay, Beaujolais) or full, dry white (Chardonnay) will do it. Dig those spaghetti westerns? Medium-bodied, Italian red (Sangiovese, Chianti) is magnifico. Sci-fi geeks will transform with Zinfandel and war movies make peace with fortified styles (Port, Sherry). For thriller/spy/mysteries, a light, crisp white (Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet) will solve it and for straight up westerns, it’s got to be Zinfandel.
Edward Finstein is a wine writer, author, TV and radio host, educator, judge.