Music tasting

What music and wine pair well with the first snow of the season?

Those of us who have spent time on the East Coast always eagerly anticipate the first snowfall, and in some parts of the country, flakes have already begun to fall. Here at Five Senses Tastings, the coming of cold weather brings to mind blazing fires and warming red wines. Never mind that it's still 75 degrees here in Los Angeles, we can all start dreaming about winter wonderlands!

Taking a snowy themed piece such as Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake as an example, a ballet that has sweeping lines, powerful orchestration, and yet many sweet tender moments, our minds were immediately taken to Alpen landscapes and snow-covered mountains.

It is not a commonly known fact that quite a few Alpen regions make incredible wines, and we are here to introduce you to at least one today, from the Italian Alps to be precise. This region, in the far northeastern part of Italy, is home to a lot of white grapes, but also to some interesting and unique red varietals. As one might guess, there is a strong German influence here as well, so many of the grapes are grown in both countries. One of the most delicious red wines here is made from Teroldego, a grape varietal native to this region, which is largely known as Trentino-Alto Adige.

A favorite Teroldego of ours is made by a woman named Elisabetta Foradori, whose family established the winery in 1901. She now makes the wine, and supervises the still small biodynamically certified winery that specializes in red wine making, and primarily that of Teroldego. Her Teroldego has many of the tempestuous qualities of Swan Lake, in that it comes off as rich, full and animalistic, yet still manages to maintain an elegance and freshness, making it a bit of a contradiction. But what a wonderful contradiction!! It has those exact warm, velvety, silky qualities that one wants when they curl up by a fire with a partner, while they dive into a delicious meal of lamb chops or steak.

VinVillage Radio Interview!

We were so excited to have been asked by VinVillage Radio to come on this week and chat about Five Senses Tastings and our crazy idea of music tasting. In the first segment we talked a bit about my personal background growing up in Europe, my education and professional pursuits, and my singing career.

In the second segment Rob and I really get into the nitty gritty of what music tasting is, how it works, who it works for, and what we've been up to!

Thanks, VinVillage Radio!

Who says sacred music is made for the soul only?

Certainly not us!

Bach's duet n°2: "Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten" from his Cantata "Jesu, der du meine Seele" BWV78 exemplifies what is so distinctive about Bach's music: it speaks directly, and as strongly, to one's soul and one’s body. The way Bach combines and weaves together the soprano and the alto voices forms an incredibly spiritual sonority that is at the same time very sensual, taking into account that no soul lives outside a body. The texture is at once light and airy and velvety, a sound one can almost touch.

A sound that tastes like a great vintage German Riesling from a classic producer such as Dönnhoff in the Nahe region, or a sublime dessert wine from Alsace, like Domaine Weinbach’s Cuvée St. Catherine or Cuvée St. Laurence, both late harvest wines made from Riesling and Gewürtztraminer, respectfully.  With their incredible vein of acidity and minerality, both wines take your palate on a journey that is at once complex and inviting, challenging but always deeply satisfying - and sometimes even life-changing.

Many people, religious or not, have likened experiences with great German and Alsatian wines to that of a spiritual awakening. In the Bach duet, the repetition of the musical motive and the variations around it speak to this spiritualism by materializing the "faltering yet eager steps" with which we undertake our life’s journey. The rising intertwining figure gives the impression of a very human striving, towards a very spiritual goal. And as the aria unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that the spiritual goal Bach devised in his music is in fact this step-by-step journey itself.