View Full Version : Music, Wine & Heston Blumenthal

Mick Pacholli
13th July 2013, 03:11 PM
The Great Heston BlumenthalI was fortunate enough recently to see the great Heston Blumenthal in a live stage performance. Now for those who don’t know Heston, he is certainly not simply what you would describe as a chef, but rather a dazzlingly inspired food wizard with a strikingly brilliant, whimsically creative and electrifyingly quirky and questioning mind. I have long been a fan of Heston and although I have yet to visit The Fat Duck (http://www.thefatduck.co.uk/), I can assure you it enjoys pride of place on my bucket list. I have, however, watched in awe as he delights in whisking away his culinary audience through extraordinary flight after extraordinary flight of food fancy with the precision of a physicist.* This blend of science and creativity appeals strongly to winemakers – our jobs are centered around those very principles, especially when it involves fragrance and aroma, albeit perhaps not quite to the same heights of whimsy.All our senses affect how we tasteSo I took particular interest as it unfolded, of course unsurprisingly in retrospect, that Heston also has a great love of wine. To him, wine is just one more amazing and complex set of flavours to creatively coordinate into the majestic experience of a meal. But he revealed, that night, that there was more to tasting wine than simply using our sense of smell and taste. As winemakers, we are keenly aware that our perceptions may be skewed by any number of both internal and external influences – our emotions, the temperature of the room, the time of day, the general mood, the lighting, the power of suggestion and expectations. Noses are not machines. They are attached to humans and as a result, are affected by the whole gamut of human senses. When we’re seriously tasting wine we try to eliminate as many of these distractions and influences as possible so we can be objective and unbiased in our decision making. We also rarely taste alone so that we are sure to get another’s viewpoint in case, for some reason, we’ve been thrown off the mark. But one thing I had not before considered was the impact of music on the taste of wine.
http://www.tooraktimes.com.au/~/media/Wolf Blass/Images/From Our Winery Blog/Wine and Music.ashxMusic affects the taste of wineBack to Heston Live. At one point Heston grabbed some folks from the audience and gave them two wines to try – a red and a white. He asked them to jot down a few simple descriptors for each of the wines. They tasted the red wine first and as they tasted, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana played in the background - powerful, heavy music. They were then asked to taste the white to the tune of Waltz of the Flowers from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite – a much more subtle, bright and refinedpiece of music. The descriptors they wrote down for the red included words like ‘rich’, ‘heavy’, ‘big’ and ‘full’. For the white, ‘light’, ‘crisp’, ‘fresh’ and ‘tart’. Heston then unveiled the two wines. They were the same. The red simply had food colouring added. Interesting.Fascinating FindingsSo I did a little more research and came across the work of Dr Adrian North (http://www.winepsych.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/adrian-north-music-and-wine.pdf), a Professor of Psychology who has experimented with the affect of music on the taste of wine. He found that as the brain interprets the sounds we hear, it then activates related pieces of information, filling in gaps in our perception. In other words, because the music sounds powerful and heavy, so too does the wine taste powerful and heavy. Fascinating stuff. In another study, playing either French or German music in a supermarket changed the buying habits of the shoppers, causing them to buy more French or German wine depending upon the music played; while classical music played in the background will encourage restaurant diners to spend more money on wine than Top 40 hits will, as it lends itself to a feeling of affluence and sophistication.Pairing Wine with MusicIn reverse, it also stands to reason that the more a wine style is suited to a style of music, the more harmonious the pairing, not unlike pairing wines with complementary foods. Why not give it a try? Perhaps a frivolous happy piece of music may not work so well with your Cabernet Sauvignon but may fit perfectly with a Sauvignon Blanc.You want a rich, smooth, mellow wine? Pull out your old Barry White CD. Or perhaps just grab a Wolf Blass red! Who knows, it may not be long before we’re putting music recommendations on our back labels.

More... (http://www.wolfblasswines.com/en/From-Our-Winery/Our-Winemakers-Blog/2012/06/28/Music-Wine-and-Heston-Blumenthal.aspx)