I am one of the owners of a winery in Paso Robles, and we are planning a wine and live music pairing at our tasting room in October. We are family run and many of the members of our family have been in the music business in one way or another for many years (I am a composer myself). Our tasting room is centered around music, with lots of memorabilia, and a built in stage for live performances by jazz acts as well as the “Family Band” – a 6 piece group made up entirely of our family members.

We have a lot of fun at our tasting room and thought it would be great to do a wine and music pairing on a big festival weekend in town. We will have people sit and we will pour each of our wines one by one, and the family band will perform a different live piece of music to pair with the wine (they will also get some paired appetizers as well). Because we have no scientific basis on the choice of our songs we will be approaching the event with an air of fun and experimentation as opposed to doctrine, but we’d love to learn more about the topic.

I came across your name and mentions of your studies while researching this topic online and was wondering if you had any papers published or some sort of tangible device to help us learn more about what we are attempting to do?

We’d also love to mention your name research if possible, with your permission. There may be an article or two written on our event as well in which I can cite your research if you’d like.

Thank you for exploring this interesting and exciting topic.

Thank you so much!

Mike Rubino
D’Anbino Vineyards & Cellars
710 Pine Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446
Dear Mike:

Sounds like great fun. I think you’ve got the right idea to just horse around with it. That’s what’s great about this area – anybody can play, and the scientists are way behind the average person in ability to explore.

The live element sure makes it more fun. I think recorded music is to live music as pornography is to sex — really a lot better when you’re actually there doing it! In fact Tim Hanni and I are going to put on a progressive dinner associated with an event at COPIA the first week of November called Sensorium in which his band, the Toasted Heads, will play selections to accompany different wine courses — should be a blast.

I became struck with the idea that music IS liquid music, that a wine has an emotional modality, when working with wine technology and running into non-linear, strongly shared phenomena like “sweet spots” in blending. My wife Susie has two music degrees (she’s a concert pianist, flautist and alto voice) and is also a French-trained clinical psychologist, so we’ve tried to put together a scientific basis which might eventually get researchers off the dime. There’s a summary of our work at which includes a paper we presented last year in Australia as well as a five-minute NPR spot that aired last Thanksgiving that you can stream to your computer. You could also read the SF Chronicle articles there.

Last month we did a demo for the music press at Lollapaloosa for Blackstone Winery which involved pairing wines and music, and I can give you some tips on what we think goes with what. Generally fresh, fruity whites like happy pieces and taste more astringent with dark pieces – Beethoven’s 5th or 7th, Garth Brooks’ “Wolves,” Carmina Burana, or “People Are Strange.” Cabernet is just the opposite – it gets harsh around polkas and bluegrass, but with the pieces I mentioned gets smooth and even sweet.

A bit more challenging is to find pieces for your tasting room – what we call “inclusive” pieces that capture your winery’s whole style. We were able to put together a couple hours of music for Blackstone’s tasting room that went with their whole line: good with the Pinot Grigio, the Pinot Noir AND the Merlot. To get this right you have to test a lot of pieces and think about your philosophy on a visceral level. Blackstone’s pieces were largely Hollywood epic film music like the Star Wars theme and Love Theme from Superman (Can You Read My Mind?). These are terrible with my wines, which are more intellectual, and my inclusive pieces include Gershwin (e.g. Rhapsody in Blue), Barber’s Andagio for Strings, and flamenco guitar (Romanza by Reuben).

If you want, we can chat about what might work for you. My cell phone is 707-332-5552 and we can set up a time to chat.

By the way, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to put our email exchange on my blog with your permission.