A Tipsy Treatise on Wine & Music

Wine writers take great pains to stress that the stuff is “rooted in physicality” and “hinged upon its earthliness.” Vino is first and foremost an agricultural product. Inside of each bottle is a combination of fruit, minerals, soil, sun, rain and climate. Wine is poured, swished, swirled and tasted. Wine can run down your chin, fill your cheeks and settle in your belly. Wine will stain your favorite shirt, forever.

On the other hand, music is about as abstract as it gets: a series of unique vibrations that glide through the air, shake our ear drums just so and end up as sounds in the mazes of our brains. For a generation characterized by science and secularism, music is about as close to magic and mysticism as you can get. No soil, no minerals, no roots and no growth. You can’t drink music. (If you can, I’d like some of what you’re having please.)

The point is this: on the great wide spectrum of “things” one would expect wine and music to sit on opposite ends. But our sun-soaked afternoons, our deep conversations, our festival weekends and our most memorable dance parties all suggest otherwise.

To most, wine and music are kindred spirits. They’re two wildly different things that we often and eagerly experience simultaneously and as one. So what is it that makes our experience of wine and music so similar, despite the obvious differences?

I would argue it comes down to vision, intent and creativity.

This is what makes music more than just sound, and wine more than just alcoholic  grape juice. Behind exceptional vino and fantastic tunes are passion-fueled ideas of what should and could be: what’s delicious, what’s deep, what’s enticing and what’s expressive.

Winemakers survey the land, move from cluster to cluster, row to row and vineyard to vineyard tasting grapes for their differences, their attributes, their readiness and compatibility. Eventually, these individual grapes will be crushed and pressed and mixed and fermented to form something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Each grape contributes to a whole with a unique voice we can tap into, enjoy and get involved with.

Producers, musicians and songwriters sit hunched over their mixers and instruments, seeking the bass track with just enough chunk or the melody with just enough joy. Hours in the studio mixing and matching (hopefully not crushing and pressing) lead to something quite the same as that well crafted bottle: the expression of a vision.

Think about it. Popstars and Châteauneuf-du-Papes aside, winemakers and musicians aren’t in it for the money- the vast majority don’t make any at all. Instead, they’re moved and motivated by their passion: their ability to express themselves with grapes or with guitars.

What a song and a sip share is their ability to express this, that, or the other in fascinating and interactive ways. That’s the common denominator, and it’s something we all aspire to do.

It’s not magic, it’s not transcendent, but it is god damn cool. Good wine and good music are aspiration in liquid and audio form, produced by some of most interesting methods possible, and that’s why they go hand in hand so well and so often.

Not to mention, you’ll always dance better when you’re slightly drunk.