Hearing in paired: Wine

Some people feel and taste colors. Other people associate feelings with sounds. Me? Well, I drink in music. In this blog series, I pour myself a glass and pair 10 sips to 10 songs. Today, I’m drinking wine and it tastes like the exuberant flurries of a clarinet that screams for your attention.

Wine is as old as civilization itself, as it can be traced back to 6000 BCE. Much later, the Greeks began fermenting it, and then after that the Romans barreled it and made it available to the majority of the Old World. However, absolutely no one cares about any of this while drinking wine. Things that wine drinkers do care about may include:

  • Not breaking the cork while opening the bottle.
  • Not looking like a jerk when smelling the wine.
  • Not liking the wine, even though it was expensive and highly recommended.
  • Not spilling the wine on themselves, their friends, the furniture or the floor, especially if it’s carpeted.
  • Not walking around with red teeth if drinking a Cabernet.
  • Not getting a wine headache and having to leave the party early.

I enjoy a nice glass of wine every now and again, but I must confess, I do have a very narrow scope of wines I drink. Maybe it’s because I have a finicky palate. Maybe it’s because my body chemistry doesn’t mix well with certain varietals. Or maybe it’s the vision of my mother dropping ice cubes into her Merlot (which she pronounces, very literally, Merr-Lawt) and laughing and/or crying loudly through the whole experience.


Whatever the reason, these are my staple four favorites:

  • Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine makes my heart pitter-patter. It is so rich and flavorful that the meal becomes secondary. But that’s the thing. You have to drink with food, or else you’ll be feeding the fish later.
  • Louis Jadot Pouily-Fuissé Chardonnay. This was the first wine I ever sipped. I was underage, which explains why later that night I bumped into a wall and then slid down to the floor, all the while getting a gnarly burn on my arm… but I never felt more grown. Still to this day, Chardonnay makes me feel both demure and ridiculous.
  • Veuve Cliquot Champagne. In my book, champagne has only one purpose: to make my orange juice bubbly. However, if I must drink it by itself, I enjoy the yellow labeled (or is it orange?) Veuve for no other reason than it gives me a bad case of the giggles. Luckily, no one serves champagne at funerals.
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot. This is a nice red wine you can enjoy without a meal. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s from Columbia Valley in Washington state — not exactly near Bordeaux and, more importantly, nowhere near expensive. The great thing about this wine is that you can have a glass by yourself and never feel alone. So, I poured myself a bit of this grape juice into a stemless glass and found the perfect 10 songs to express what I felt and tasted.

image1-2Sip 1 – Sing, Sing, Sing by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra That singular drum intro is the perfect match to the moments right before a cork is freed from a bottle. The musical madness that ensues is the wine pouring and the ritualistic lifting of the glass for witty toasts followed by clinks, but it’s that clarinet that really sings the way the flavors of the Merlot flow through your mouth.

My first sip had so much swing, I actually said, “Ahhh” right after I swallowed.

Sip 2 – Jumpin’ at the Woodside by Duke Ellington & Count Bassie There are as many layers of flavors as there are arpeggios in this song. The second sip had me saying, “Hey, look at me, I’m a grown up casually consuming a modest glass of wine — that was until…

Sip 3 – Let the Good Times Roll by Ray Charles The warmth of the third sip finally made its way to my extremities. My hips had a little extra sway in them and so did my neck, which insisted on swinging my head back and forth to the flurry of the saxophone in  this Ray Charles classic.

Sip 4 – La Vie En Rose by Louis Armstrong On the fourth sip, I lifted my glass and swung the wine around just to see the legs stain against the glass. The drip was not only perfectly timed to La Vie En Rose, but it was also the exact pace of my speech.

Sip 5 – Begin the Beguine by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra The sudden urge to dance  came over me after my fifth sip, like the short horn blasts of this song. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence. This urge comes over me quite regularly, whether I’m sober at the grocery store or heavily caffeinated after breakfast in my living room. Yet, when it’s the result of wine, the impetus to move is equal to the amount of space I need on the dance floor.

Sip 6 – Je m’appelle Jane by Jane Birkin & Mickey 3D “Why didn’t I learn to speak French?” I thought as I sipped my sixth. In my mind, I went through all of the French words I knew, but none could be put together in any sort of functioning sentence. Then I remembered I didn’t have anyone to speak French to, so I felt better about the whole thing.

Sip 7 – Desafinado by Sérgio Mendes Sip number seven was a pretty substantial gulp. Mainly because I thought I was drinking out of my water glass. “Jesus was here!” I thought. But, as I suspected, I just picked up the wrong cup. That muted wah-wah-wah of the trombone was the reaction I got when I said that joke out loud.

Sip 8 – Port Rico by Sidney Bechet Silliness is at an all time high. On my eighth sip, I decided that it would be the ideal time to make a phone call I had been avoiding, only I dialed the customer service line for Sears not once, but twice. With its New Orleans swing, this song is the soundtrack to this unfortunate and awkward interaction.

Sip 9 – Moscovitz and Loops of It by David Krakauer Who knew a clarinet could be so delicious? Same could be said about this Merlot, which just gets better with every sip. At this point I really felt like dancing, but first I made a run for the bathroom. The ninth sip brought my first bathroom visit, where I noticed that my cheeks were the same color as the Merlot. After, I say more hilarious things to the sober person in my house, who suggests I have reached the desired outcome of my experiment.

Sip 10 – Hot Potato by Circus Contraption My tenth sip was undoubtedly a downer, just like this blues jam. The “experiment” was over, but I still had a good 30 minutes of intense goofiness in me before I collapsed on the couch at the same speed of the vocals of Hot Potato.

Click if you missed my music parings for whiskeygin, vodkabeer and/or tequila.

Published by Mari

I was born with a widow's peak and a thick accent. I majored in English as a second language. I work (marianeladearmas.com) and travel (alittlecubangoesalongway.com) and sometimes do both.

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