Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Tasting notes with Simon Callow

Do classical music and wine go together?  Assuming you enjoy both of these things, then the answer is a resounding "well, duh".  Of course they do.  But if it's so obvious, why don't we see music recommendations on the back labels of bottles, alongside the usually asinine food matches?

Classic fm has now put them firmly together, using the velvety, mellifluous tones of actor and writer Simon Callow as the glue.  Yes, Simon Callow of Four Weddings fame, not Simon Cowell the TV reality "talent" show impresario - that would be a quite different show.

A "tasting pod" where wine and music are sampled together

Last night I had the chance to try out the idea of pairing wines and music, courtesy of Laithwaite's, who are providing the wines for the programme.  Each Sunday afternoon at 3pm you can tune in to Simon's Tasting Notes programme on Classic fm and drink along as he talks about the wines and plays music designed to complement what's in the glass.

Here are a couple of examples from last night's tasting:

Danaris Grüner Veltliner 2011 (£9.99) - matched with Johan Strauss' The Blue Danube
An obvious ploy of matching perhaps THE best known piece of Austrian music with Austria's own Grüner Veltliner variety.  Strangely, I found more white pepper spice accompanying the pleasant grapefruitiness in the wine when I stopped listening to the music.  But perhaps I just didn't enjoy the music and was devoting too much of my mind to that fact, rather than focusing on the wine.

Le Grand Chai Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 2010 (£11.49) - matched with Saint Saens' Rondo Cappriccioso
A successful combination where I enjoyed both the wine and the music.  Castillon is one of those neglected "lesser" communes of Bordeaux and Laithwaite's have clearly managed to get plenty of wine for their money - lovely violet and pencil shaving aromas lead onto an assertive "wash and brush" up palate, but with plenty of plush fruit too.

My conclusion:  many things can be improved by having a glass of wine and listening to classical tunes is certainly one of them.