Why on earth should you care about my blog?

 

I'm not too proud to admit that I didn't really want to start a blog. Look at me... don't I look terrified? Having to come up with new things to say all the time seemed panic-inducing at best. However, I quickly (ok, maybe not really so quickly) realized that what blogging actually is is simply expressing on "paper" what runs through my head every single minute of every single day. What is that?

A total and all-consuming passion to engage our senses to experience life to the fullest. 

 

Since moving to California, I have found myself stopping to smell the roses (quite literally: my neighborhood is full of 'em, especially as they're in season now) or watching the entirety of a sunset even more than I ever used to. I listen more carefully to the birds outside my window, I sometimes sit on my couch for long stretches of time and simply look at the art work on my wall or feel the softness of my kitty's fur against my leg. Not that I didn't do those things before but running a business that is entirely based on the specificity of triggering our senses and creating experiences that people will hopefully remember for month and years to come has heightened my own awareness of what is going on in the world around me.

Why should you care what I'm writing about? You certainly don't have to, and I won't love you any less if you don't read my drivel, but I hope that you will consider how you "sense" your way through a given day and perhaps come back to learn a bit about the music, wine, cheese, and chocolate that we feature in our posts so that you, too, can begin to live a more sensually purposeful life. 

#tastethemusic

Revel-Reflect-Recharge

HAPPY MONDAY.png

I had a thoroughly unplugged weekend this weekend, and it felt amazing. I slowed down, walked (strolled even), spent longer than normal on each bite of food, stood and LOOKED at the ocean rather than passing it by, left my phone at home and didn't listen to anything except the world and people around me. 

Then it was today – Monday. First thing I saw this morning was the "Revel-Reflect-Recharge" weekly email, in which the author mentioned the following:

"Acknowledging your senses is a quick way to become attentive to the present moment - what is meant by being mindful. To create a mindful pause whenever the need arises focus for a few minutes on what you can hear, and then on what you can feel on or in various parts of the body (the chest breathing, airflow over the skin, ambient temperature, minor aches and pains, feet on the floor, even itching sensations...), and then on what you can smell and/or taste. Lastly focus your sight on a few things around you both far and near, and really see them (particularly helpful when your eyes have become screen-weary)."

What a beautiful reminder that, even amidst the chaos, we can always find a minute or two just to BE in ourselves. Focusing on all our senses is the way to ground ourselves in that moment of being.

Now this is what I call music tasting!

We haven't done a pairing note in a while, so I thought I would share one of the pairings you'll be tasting on Sunday March 26th in our program "The Playful Palate," which is offered in celebration of Women's History Month.

Our musical selections for our first red wine of the evening, the 2009 "Coquette" by Tessa Parker of Tessa Marie Vineyards located in Los Olivos, CA are:

“Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles
“Quando m’en vo” from La bohème by Giacomo Puccini
“The Look of Love” by Diana Krall

As you can see, we're spanning three completely different genres of music: Blues rock, Opera, and Jazz. For our sweet treat, we offered a Dark Chocolate Strawberry Habanero Bark by EOS Chocolates.

Even without the name, this wine is all flirt. It’s bold, sexy, and strong-willed yet maintains a brooding softness and velvety tannins that will make you swoon. We wanted to find music that spoke to both the wine’s strong and feminine personalities.

Our first musical selection reflects the velvety mouthfeel of the wine. The country-rock genre allows the musicians a great deal of individuality and attitude, which is perfect for the suggestiveness of the Coquette. The richness of the Sangiovese hits you right away – much like the deep and steady rhythms of this song – and the spice of the dark chocolate strawberry habanero bark lends itself perfectly by cutting through the tannins to secure its own flavor profile in your mouth.

There’s no bigger flirt in the history of music than Musetta and in our second selection, we encourage you to pay special attention to your sense of smell as you concentrate on the air that hangs between her vocal phrases and breathe in the big berries on this wine’s nose. Diana Krall completes our circle with her languid song “The Look of Love.” The addition of a hint of samba in this piece is perfect for the Coquette as it gives us a feeling of swaying, which helps us fully appreciate the complexity of these two grapes as they move in harmony with one another.

The delicacy of a well-chosen piece of music.

Jacquelyn-Schreiber-Pianist-Los-Angeles-Five-Senses-Tastings

Do a quick Google search on “Books on Wine and Music” and, trust me, you’ll find pretty much nothing. This search will yield a good amount of books on wine tasting itself, to be sure, but that’s really where it ends. A slightly more open-ended search, such as “music and wine” will open up a few more options. The prevailing philosophy about pairing wine and music is that a particular grape has a particular musical genre that is its pairing muse. I don’t disagree that this is true in some instances. However, I take issue with the idea that a Syrah from Southern California, one from the Rhône Valley, one from Washington State, and one from Australia can be musically identified in the same way. I’m guessing the winemakers would take issue with that as well!

The leader in this space is Clark Smith, of course, who argues that the music you listen to can change the flavor of the wine you’re drinking. I really appreciate how he uses the term “emotional modality” to describe both the wine and the music that he believes pairs well together That’s exactly the right wording in my opinion because it goes beyond the factual tasting notes that most people, frankly, don’t really care about and gets at the heart of the elements and the the feelings they evoke.

Without a lot of thought we can intuit that there are certain musical styles and sounds that would pair better with certain types of wines. I can imagine listening to classical flute music while drinking a glass of champagne, for example, but I don’t hear it so much when I think of sipping a a Syrah. Conversely, an opera aria screams out to be paired with a big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon, not a Sauvignon Blanc. Or does it?

Just now I made generalizations about genres of music (or in the case of the white wine, the sound of a particular instrument). However, while there are certainly generalization to be made, and I would argue those made above are going to work for you about 95% of the time, consider the famous “Flower Duet” from Lakmé by Léo Delibes. To me, the melodic and harmonic movement of this operatic duet is perfect for a full-bodied white wine and is too gentle for most red wines.

The point I’m trying to make here is that we must be as specific with our musical pairings as winemakers are with the date they harvest their grapes, the types and amounts of yeast they add, and the number of months (or years) their wines age in the barrel. When winemakers do not take the requisite care – or when wine is mass produced to such a degree that quality is simply an afterthought (sorry Chalk Hill Chardonnay) – their wines are mediocre at best, headache-inducing at worst. Why, when creating the perfect special occasion for those important moments in our lives, would we not take the same care to treat our ears to the delicacy of a well-chosen piece of music?

Meet the #badass women of Five Senses Tastings' next event!

Since moving to Los Angeles, I've become much more woo-woo, you know, granola. I'm accepting the fact that hard work – alone – isn't the only way to achieve what you want, and am learning to believe that the Universe has your back even when you can't quite see how. Even then you have to trust it. If last week wasn't a confirmation of that, I don't know what is. 

Last week was all about timing and coincidences, and I'd like to take a moment to introduce you to two of them. But first, let's just give this lovely, talented lady a big shout out. Berklee grad and fellow LA newbie Jacquelyn Schreiber has now played in four of our events, is playing again for us on March 9th at the CLIC Conference, and will be with us for our Women's History Month event, "The Playful Palate" on Sunday March 26th at V Wine Room for another two shows. Jacquelyn is one of the most reliable, fun-loving, creative, and lightning-fast learners I have ever met. I love having Jacquelyn with us, and so excited she was available to join us for this event. What's most exciting for her, I'm sure, is the launch of her new EP, "Beautiful Love," now available on iTunes. Congratulations, Jacquelyn!! SO happy for you!

So... you know that area of your messages on Facebook that you never see if you don't officially know the person and maybe seven months later you finally see it and sheepishly respond to make sure the person knows you're not a totally awful human who was ignoring you? Yep, that's what happened with violinist Lacy Rostyak. I got that sheepish message about two weeks ago. What Lacy didn't know was that I had recently seen a video of her playing THE most amazing Celtic fiddle and was desperate to have her on our program. A few hasty messages back and forth about how sorry she was and how happy I was, and there you have it. Done! So excited to have Lacy with us!

Lois is one of the very first people I met in LA. Only a month into my life here, I was asked to sing at CSUN on a concert of music by Hollywood film composer, John Debney. I happened to sit next to Lois and her lovely daughter, Jenny, throughout the rehearsal and performance process and of course, being that it's Los Angeles, we actually talked to one another! She told me about her life session singing (a completely new concept to me at the time) and how she had sung on tracks for Friends and Splash (hands up, those for whom this isn't on their Top 10 list, please!), and I told her how I'd just left a salary-paying job to start working on Five Senses Tastings full-time. We were in touch a bit after the event but never met up, and I supposed I might bump into her again by accident but probably just never see her again. And then, she just called! Like actually picked up the phone (after not having lost my business card) and C-A-L-L-E-D! She was curious to know if I might need someone to perform on my upcoming events. At the time I hadn't picked all the repertoire yet but as I chatted with her and told her my thoughts on including songs by Tina Turner, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, etc, it became clear that this was the program for Lois. And again, DONE! Can't wait to have Lois on our program March 26th at V Wine Room!

And our fourth artist? Blablabla, it's me. Y'all know me, and if you don't, go here to learn a bit more about me. That's enough!

It's Women's History Month!

One of Five Senses Tastings' first events was in March 2013 at Barnard College, by alma mater in celebration of Women's History Month. I remember being so excited about this event and having such a blast researching the amazing composers' lives, learning their music, and hearing what they had to say through their own particular medium

I get the chance to do it all over again at the end of this month when we team up again with our dear friends Mikey and Alon over at V Wine Room in West Hollywood. Tickets are on sale now, and we do expect this event to sell out to get 'em early! Back also by extremely popular demand, we'll be working with Catherine von Ruden of EOS Chocolates whose "Pots of Sin" may – let's be honest – the real reason that people come to our events. To tempt your tongue just a touch, I wanted to introduce to you the five winemakers we'll be featuring at our event.

Zinke Wines

First up is Erin Scherer of Zinke Wines whose 2016 Sauvignon Blanc will be our first offering of the evening. We don't currently have a picture of Erin, but we'll update as soon as we do. While influenced by tradition, Zinke is paving their own path in the vineyard and the cellar in pursuit of the unattainable—perfection. With fruit sourced from the grand crus of the central coast, their wine practically makes itself. Optimal ripeness, hand sorted fruit, small lot fermentations, stem inclusion, co-ferments, and the proper formula of oak and time embody their winemaking philosophy. Although influenced by those before us, their wines never imitate, and always inspire. Their wines harmonize with all genres of food, but the ideal pairing is with friends, family, music, and laughter. 

Casa Dumetz Wines

Sonja Magdevski of Casa Dumetz Wines

Following Erin's wine, we'll showcase a Roussane by Sonja Magdevski of Casa Dumetz Wines. Casa Dumetz Wines started in 2004 with a patch of raw earth, a bucket of grapevines and a sincere commitment to produce authentic, elegant and pleasurable wines. Their focus is small production Rhone varietals crafted on the foundation of premiere Santa Barbara County fruit. Vineyard tours/barrel sampling sessions available by appointment for wine club members. Wines are sold almost exclusively through our tasting room in historic Los Alamos and via our wine club.

Tessa Marie Wines

Tessa Parker of Tessa Marie Wines

We get a bit coquettish next with Tessa Marie's 2009 Coquette. Tessa, whose first harvest was in 2005, sources most of her fruit from Camp 4 Vineyard and Rodney's Vineyard, some of the most esteemed vineyards in Santa Barbara County. "I like to make New World-style wines with bold, stand-out flavors that still demonstrate balance." Tessa Marie makes her wines in a small, unassuming industrial warehouse space nearby. "For me, making wine is really about making art. I rely more upon my intuition and sense of taste. I guess my approach is intuitive, more than anything else."

We couldn't agree more with Tessa Marie that wine is so much more than liquid in a glass. It's art!

 

Nagy Wines

Clarissa Nagy of CNagy Wines

Next up is Clarissa Nagy's 2013 Syrah. Clarissa's story is one we hear a lot from winemakers: I didn't start out wanting to make wine but it found me, and it stuck!

In her own words, "people often ask how I started in the winey industry. It was never my plan to make wine. Actually, my original intention was to work with food. Thankfully, food and wine are often paired together. Through that means, wine found me. I met my husband while we were working together in the wine industry. We made a barrel of 2002 Viognier as a wedding favor. It seemed a fitting gift for our family and friends. My quest for another source of Viognier was encouraged by those who had tasted the “wedding wine.” It would be a longer quest than I expected. 

I purchased one ton of Pinot Noir in 2004. I wanted to continue making Pinot Noir and work with an amazing vineyard. One thing led to another. In 2005, I began working with 3 different vineyards and my brand was born. Pinot Noir and Syrah were my main focus for the next 6 years. I made a Viognier in 2010, but frost would prevent me from doing so in 2011. The loss of Viognier opened the door to work with Pinot Blanc as well, and my journey continued to unfold. The newest chapter of my story is the addition of the tasting room.

Winemaking has become my passion. Sharing that joy with others is a priority. I‘d love to be able to bring everyone into the vineyard and cellar to experience winemaking firsthand. Since that isn’t realistic, I offer you a taste of my labor. Here is that experience captured in bottle. I hope to share this passion with you in person. Until then, enjoy!"

Kalawashaq' Wine Cellars

Tara Gomez of Kalawashaq' Wine Cellars

Our final wine is by a winemaker whose product we've featured before, and we're so excited to be serving it again. Tara Gomez is the owner of Kalawashaq' Wine Cellars, and for this event we'll be presenting her 2001 "Unity" blend. Can't really think of a more appropriate name for anything at this time! 

In Samala, the language of the Santa Ynez Chumash, Kalawashaq' translates to "shell of the turtle" and represents a village once occupied by our ancestors. In the tradition of our ancestors to honor the land, we have taken the grapes grown from Mother Earth and respectfully handcrafted them into fine wines designed for your enjoyment. Kalawashaq' Wines symbolizes the beauty of tradition and honor of the Chumash people. It is with this in mind that we bring you our wines in honor of our ancestors.

gusto k’umeyé
Enjoy!

In our next blog post we'll introduce you to our musicians for this event. We're so excited to welcome back – yet again – Jacquelyn Schreiber on piano and vocals. When you find someone that good and that reliable, you just keep bringing them back. Thrilled to introduce to you a new violinist on our roster, Lacy Rostyak, and Lois Blaisch, a guitarist and singer-songwriter will be joining us as well for some Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Joni Mitchell, and other rock legends!