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Gillian Conway
April 4, 2016 | Gillian Conway

Music for Wine Tasting in Santa Barbara

Music and Wine-Harmony or Catastrophe?

Earlier today, I received an email from a local musician. He wanted to know, "Would Conway Family Wines and Deep Sea ever want to pair their wines with live music, and then give away a CD of that music when a consumer purchased the wine?" He went on to say that the music would be everlasting, whereas the wine is gone when the bottle is empty. (Saddest moment ever is when the bottle of wine is empty and gone forever. I don't know if anything can help reduce that acute sadness, except another bottle of wine. But local music might help).

The idea then, he went on, is that when the consumer puts the CD on, maybe some days or weeks later, they would recall the Deep Sea Chardonnay, Santa Barbara, 2013  they had, and would involuntarily salivate, and run, wild-eyed and eager, to their computer or local wine shop, desperate to purchase the exact bottle they had enjoyed when the heard the music the first time. 

Ah, were it that simple...I could have brainwashed half of America by now...were we to attempt this, there are a few challenges to overcome. The first being that millenials don't own CD players. Secondly, what music could we provide that would be so profound it would invoke the type of response we're talking about?

Even a really good tune probably wouldn't illicit quite the response in the consumer that would compel them to stop whatever they were doing and manically shop online, but it is true that the wine tasting experience is influenced by more than just our gustatory and olfactory systems. There is an entire industry built on creating experiences for consumers in hotels, theme parks, retail stores, restaurants bars etc. The lighting, the music, the smell of the room, the way the fabric of the dining chairs feels against your skin. If all of these elements can have a direct effect on a human experiencing "a place" then of course music could have a direct effect on whether or not I am enjoying the wine I am drinking. So its not totally outlandish to think that hearing a song might assist one in recalling a wine tasting room, or a particular wine.

So in my Deep Sea Santa Barbara Tasting Room on Stearns Wharf, what kind of music should we play? Music, like wine, is incredibly subjective, so its pretty difficult to find something that suits all tastes (and ears). A great ambiance can help make a decent wine taste fabulous, but can a fabulous wine help to overcome bad music?

Even with music that is undoubtedly well written, well played and widely enjoyed by my friends, and me it would be hard to know if others (my customers) will enjoy it. It seems to me that pairing wine and music is much like pairing wine with food. It should be done with much care, by those who are well versed, trained and practiced. We all know the result of a bad pairing!

But maybe it does work to pair music and wine in a public environment. If I can find the proper styles of music to blend harmoniously with my Santa Barbara wines, I may just strike a chord with my consumers... (Sorry couldn't help it...)

I will attempt, tonight, to pair 2013 Conway Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills with "Amazing Day and Army of One" on the new Coldplay album "A Head Full of Dreams" while I snack on a prosciutto, garlic and mozzarella pizza. I'll keep you posted on how that all goes. My stomach is already growling and it's only 1 Pm...


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