Paging through this month’s GQ I saw that Christian Eedes has written a little column thingy about pairing wine and music. This reminded me of a study that played three types of music to groups of people drinking a glass of wine; depending on what music was played, people responded differently to the wines, showing how “music shifted the perception of the wine in the direction of the mood expressed by the music”. See here for details.
This is slightly worrying when one thinks of all the music Tim Atkins plays as he judges. What happens if, by some horrible judgment, Tim lets Nickleback into his playlist? The wines he is tasting will surely be judged as faulty.
Interesting, sure, but I am instead, going to offer you some wine and life pairings. The best wines to imbibe as you go about your short, and on the whole, meaningless life.
Let’s start with sex – you did.
Well it’s obvious. Champagne. Champagne tastes better when you are all sweaty and sticky. It’s true, ask any sommelier (said in a silly French accent: If zir is aving ze coitus, zen zee bottle of Krug is obligatory. And for Madam, I recommend zee Pol Roger. Your name is Paul, no?)
Champagne is the sexiest of wines, the most sensual and the most stimulating. Before, after and during, Champagne is the perfect pairing for sex. Whether you are having some late night secret lascivious meeting in a dingy hotel, copulating wildly on silk sheets in a Parisian penthouse, or rolling around under the sun and in the hay al fresco style, Champagne is the only drink to have with you, in you, all over you.
I will concede that something outrageously rare and expensive could be shared in bed. But I would suggest this be a post-coital drink. “Darling that was just extraordinary. Now pass me that bottle of ‘45 Romanée-Conti, I need to get my strength back.”
Let’s start with novels. Good novels. Literature, as opposed to that stuff mythically found in airport terminals. The trick is to find a wine with the appropriate weight and bearing. A simple wine does not offer the hours of work the novelist has put in enough respect; yet a very serious and complex wine will detract from the novel itself.
I have found Port a good companion to novels, it demands sipping and occupies your tastebuds long enough for you to finish a page without having to reach out for another swig. No need to splash out on something fancy, just a simple port will do. Remember, it is about the book, not the wine.
Poems. Poems are different, and first thoughts are toward a more ascetic approach. Alone, no distractions, maybe a dim lamp and a comfortable chair are all that should be at hand when reading poetry (again, we’re talking about good poetry; not something your boyfriend wrote you, confessing how his never-ending love is a draft tap with an infinite keg). However, we must find a wine for poetry.
A dry sherry is most suitable. Fino is probably best. With its salty/nutty character a good fino offers the deliciousness of wine without letting the drinker forget that they are not simply drinking, they are edifying their souls by reading poetry. No more than one sip per stanza.
There is one exception. For poems written in sprung rhythm a brandy is called for.
Other writing. OK OK, I forgot plays. File them under novels. Glossy magazines, give them an oaky chardonnay in a big glass. Newspapers should be drunk with bubbly to prevent the reader from slipping into too deep a depression. Short stories should also be accompanied by port. Trashy novels, if not burnt, should be drunk with something quaffable: Sauvignon Blanc or South African Chenin suit this purpose well. If you need a red then Merlot is best.
All wines are good to drink with despair. The bigger the glass the better you will feel.
For films of substance something earthy from the Rhone has always suited me. The more foreign the film the stranger the wine. Romantic comedies are best paired with Chablis and Xanex. Horrors need a solid Cabernet Sauvignon (although Bordeaux blends will do the job). Sports movies require Pinotage, and movies including someone disabled overcoming enormous obstacles are best watched with something that offers a bitter finish, because at the end of the film, they are still disabled.
TV series when watched from first episode to last in quick succession are generally being used to blot out the horrible world you find yourself in. It is recommended that you read a book instead, or just finish a few bottles of anything you have lying around.
This one is tricky as it depends very much on the context. Say, for example, you are having phone sex with an author? Port or Bubbly? In these sorts of situations it is always advisable to go with the sparkling wine. Make it your maxim: When irresolute open some Krug.
But in general something that requires little thinking is fine for long chats on the telephone. White is generally better. Pinot Grigio is the obvious choice.
When in love Champagne is desired, but all wine will taste better. Especially when poured by your lover.
The Dinner Party
Most foodies (those annoying people who can go on for hours about an organic turnip, for them you need something strong, like a crossbow) will say a dinner party is all about food and wine pairing. This is without question, codswallop. A dinner party is about good conversation, good food, good wine, cigarettes, more wine, better food, less intelligible but undoubtedly better conversation, more wine, more cigarettes, shouting about existential angst in Winnie the Pooh, more wine, someone is insulted and leaves, more wine, dessert, cigarettes, port, a suggestion of spin the bottle which is poo-pooed by everyone much to everyone’s disappointment, brandy, cigarettes, more wine, wondering where your childhood went, rage because there is no more wine, joy because you find some, an aborted attempt at pictionary (someone is racist, and there is a fight), more wine, people sleep, some confess secrets, the hangers on share a bottle of Riesling as the sun rises.
Wine is best avoided at work, but obviously if there is an expense account use it well. Do not spend a thousand bucks on something over-oaked and nasty.
After finding myself a little out of breath the other day after struggling to get particularly resistant cork out of a bottle of Cote Rotie I decided I should go for a run. After two attempts I found myself injured. Nothing in particular, just my body, ego, pride, and being. I found a bottle of Riesling from the Mosel the best way to remedy the situation.
The best wine is to have with your significant other is one they like. As obvious as this may sound, not adhering to this rule has seen the end of many a relationship. Once, I was bought a bottle of some chocolate flavoured nonsense Pinotage. I said, “Bitch, please” and that was the end of that.
Sweet wines are best to accompany a cigarette. A good port and a smoke is a piece of heaven. Brandy drinkers prefer cigars. There is much to be said for a cigarette and a Noble Late Harvest though.