WhINE TO THE MUSIC the art of pairing wine and music

Posted on October 16, 2012

Whine to the Music is the art of pairing wine and music.  In the same way I approach ART & WINE PAIRING, I will tackle wine and music.  I’ll look at the structure of the wine and pair it to the elements of the music.  Take a sip of your wine.. do you feel anything?  Watch a music video…do you feel anything?  Whine to the Music is pairing wine and music based on emotion.  How does one begin to approach such an obscure concept?  Below you will see the basic structural elements of wine and how they pertain to music.

(In my best Bruce Buffer voice)  HERE WE GO!!!!


The color of a wine is looked at in different ways.  For example, a dark ruby color with brightness is a sign of a clean, maybe new world wine.  These wines can go with lively music that is bright and energetic.  For example, Pop songs.

If the color is garnet, dull and rustic it is a sign of an aged or old world wine.  Wines with this sort of color are best paired with music that is darker, somber and maybe more poetic, like country music.


Wines which are less aromatics are paired with music with a lower decibel level.  Whereas wines with more intensity are paired with music which has a higher decibel level.

Wines with red fruit aromas and aromatic flowers such as honeysuckle are paired with music that is lively and might have lots of strings and horns.

Wines with darker fruits and floral aromas such as violets are paired with songs with more bass, maybe trombones.

Oaky wines which have aromas of baking spices, toast or vanilla can pair with music that has percussion instruments, such as drum kits, high hats, snares, bass drums or bongos, depending on the heaviness of the oak.

Wines which show more minerality and elements of earth can be paired with music that has piano, synthesizers, symbols or key-tars…yeah I said key-tars.  The type of minerality will decide how deep or high the notes are.  For example, barnyard and mushroom would be low octaves and slate and chalk at high octaves.


The approach to flavor is pretty much the same as aroma.  Does the wine have red fruit aromas? If so, does it taste like red fruits?  If the wine matches the aroma you can stick with music that matches those aromas.

If the wine starts to show other types of flavor, different from the nose, then the wine is more complex and can be paired with more complex music, maybe classical?


The body is determined by how the wine feels on the palate in terms of weight.  This is directly associated to the wine’s alcohol level.

Light body = non-fat milk = Music that is light and flighty.  It might have violins, triangles, harps and acoustical guitar etc…

Medium Body = whole milk  =  Music with more intensity, maybe some bass and deeper vocals.  It can have electric guitars and synthesizers etc…

Full body = heavy cream =  Music with fullness of sound.  Maybe it is hip hop, maybe there all sorts of arrangements with several guitars, back up vocals, layers of music coming together to create one sound.


Tannins are felt on the sides of the cheeks and behind the lips.  They feel prickly and can range from all sorts of intensity levels.  For example, Pinot Noir might have low tannin and Nebbiolo very high.  I think of tannins as being related to the vocals.  If the singer’s voice is soft and melodic it can be paired with Pinot Noir.  Whereas if the singer’s voice is deep and raspy, we can pair it with Nebbiolo.




When I speak about acidity, it has nothing to do with Janis Joplin.  Acidity is the most important part of wine, it can make the wine either flabby, by not being present, or give it back bone, by making your mouth water.

Wines which have low acidity but are balanced, can be paired with music that is simple and organic such as a folk song with guitar and singer.

As the acidity increases, we can pair the wines with songs with  complexity.  If the wine is too acidic it will need to be paired with heavy metal-death rock-electronica.

Acidity pairs with the basic structure of the music.  For example, Simon and Garfunkel = low acidity, Paul Simon= medium acidity and Fela Kuti = high acidity.


A wine’s finish is determined by how long the wine stays with you.  Does it dissipate after it’s fruitiness wears off or does it stay with you and change on the palate?  This is the lasting impression.  Some wines are meant to be fresh, fruity and upfront.  These wines can be paired with songs with short choruses, songs in which the chorus or the hook is not the most dominant part of the song.

Wines which have a  long finish and continue to evolve on the palate can be paired with songs whose choruses are repetitive or might have a long instrumental interlude.  A song which is considered an anthem, or a song which stands the test of time needs to be paired with a wine with a long finish.  For example, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”  is a rock anthem with a repetitive chorus.  A fruit forward Russian River Pinot Noir will not do.  This song needs to be paired with an American great, such as a Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet that has tannin, acidity, dark floral notes and dark fruit flavors which stay with you and finishes long and stoney.

Whine to the Music is the art of pairing wine and music.  I hope the next time you listen to a song you Whine to the music and think about which wine would be the best pairing.




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