wine tasting

So what goes with...

Sauvignon Blanc

Our vote is for João Gilberto’s debut album “Chega de Saudade," which belongs to the bossa nova genre of music. 

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Brazilian bossa nova evokes the brightness and youthfulness of the delicious Sauvignon Blanc grape. The term actually translates to “new trend,” and though it’s unlikely to unseat Chardonnay as the most popular grape in the U.S., it enjoys a very trendy existence today. João Gilberto’s debut album is often credited with being the first bossa nova album. The swaying feeling of this genre, as opposed to the swing of jazz, is a delightful companion to the crisp and refreshing quality of this grape. Try this combination on a porch swing or at a summer garden party!

Countries producing: France, Chile, New Zealand, United States
Typical flavor profile: Dry, crisp and refreshing, light-bodied, somewhat aromatic
Emotional descriptors: Fun-loving, bright, jovial, crowd-pleaser
Cheese/Food: Crostini with goat cheese (try Humboldt Fog) and cherry tomatoes. Fish and seafood are also good options.
Sweet treat: Butterscotch bites dipped in milk chocolate

Keep your eye out for more music and wine pairings -- we've got a lot up our sleeve!

Dick jokes and opera

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Yes, you read right.

This is the title of the show I saw on Wednesday thanks to my dear friend, Diane, yoga teacher extraordinaire and also the Founder of Love Infinity for All, a jewelry company that raises awareness and funds for mental illness. 

We really didn't know what I was getting into when we rolled up to the Soho House in West Hollywood. For those of you who don't know, Soho House (which actually began in London in 1995 and has houses all over Europe and North America, oh, and Istanbul) is where you go when you need to convince the rich and famous how rich and famous you currently are OR how rich and famous you think you are OR how rich and famous you will or most definitely should be.

"High art meets low art" is how the show was presented to the packed room. Opera arias, performed by LA-based opera singer and entrepreneur Nicole Levitt, were interspersed with stand up comedians named... yeah, I'm sorry, I have absolutely no recollection of who they were but they were great, especially the irreverent Illinois-Irish guy in the middle.

What I loved most about the event was the complete unexpectedness of it. Stand up comedy and opera? Maybe someone has thought of it before but, no surprise here, I absolutely loved the concept of putting together two things that you'd think on the surface have nothing in common with one another. But it worked because the purposefulness behind each story was there, whether high art or low art.People in the audience may never have heard opera before, and they were inclined to appreciate it not only because they knew the woman singing but because her voice stood in clear, melodious, and purposeful juxtaposition to the dick jokes and other insults hurled by the comedians. 

There are most certainly still some kinks to be ironed out in terms of the flow and presentation, but I am thrilled to bits to hear that this will not be the last installment and that the future of the show is moving towards a more meaningful connection between the two art forms.

The power of experience over stuff

Carefully selected wines, food, and music have the power to create unique experiences. These sparkling wines – one white and one rosé – are from the Boisset Collection.

I am consistently unamazed at how much more people talk about experiences than things. According to David Adler, CEO of BizBash, the market leader in event news, ideas, and resources, research shows that "today's buyers believe that experiences are the new bling," and I have found this to be exceptionally true, across generations and across the country and even the world. 

People are always looking for that "new" twist to their special events and in Los Angeles, which is an events town through and through, I find this to be even more pronounced. From real estate agents to financial planners, health coaches to those in the hospitality industry, people crave something memorable... something more than just a party with a Costco cheese plate (don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Costco cheese plates) and some cheap wine from Trader Joe's (those who know me know what a complete and utter devotee I am of TJ's!).

A guest at Héritage Fine Wines in Beverly Hills listens carefully to the musical selections, each one hand-picked to pair with the wine, cheese, and chocolate served.

Most people – me included – do not consciously consider their senses on a daily basis, except perhaps to notice if they have a stuffy nose or their ears are popping after a long flight. We accept what the world throws at our senses without question and without much consideration of the fact that we do actually have the power to customize what we sense, at least to some degree.

As Julian Treasure often remarks in his speeches on conscious listening, we do not have earlids, and so entirely turning off the sounds of the world just isn't possible (even the best earplugs can't filter out the jackhammer noise from next door's rebuilding project completely – trust me, I know!). However, we do have the option of focusing on our senses and purposefully triggering and engaging them. 

Guests listen intently at a recent Five Senses Tastings event in Essex Fells, New Jersey. 

At Five Senses Tastings, we take this idea very seriously. We have all come to accept sound – or perhaps more appropriately, noise – as something that by its very nature is unspecific (and sometimes even annoying) in our lives. We have become inured to the idea that our senses, when carefully addressed one by one or in concerted unity, can center us in the moment and help to create and solidify memories.

Specifically triggering all our five senses – sound, smell, taste, touch, and sight – is our primary goal in our music tastings. We have shared it with hundreds already, and we can't wait to continue sharing this unique experience with our friends in Los Angeles. Whether you're planning an anniversary or birthday party, product launch, or client appreciation event, we can help create a special experience that your guests will not only enjoy but remember with all their senses.

Music: humankind's first communication tool

One of my favorite authors on the topic of sound both as it relates to business and to our experience as humans in daily life is Julian Treasure, whose TED talks on conscious listening and how sound affects us have been watched many millions of times.

In his monumental book "Sound Business," written a decade ago, Treasure notes that "of all the types of sounds, music is the one we find most fascinating" (p. 84). He goes even further in this line of thinking by bringing up the research of archeologist Stephen Mithen, who asserts in The Singing Neanderthals that "music came before language." For Mithen, Treasure writes, "the advent of language sidelined music from its original role as our core communication vehicle. Language is processed by different areas of the brain, and these have become dominant as we have concentrated exclusively on lingual communication, leaving music as a powerful tool that we now use without really understanding" (p. 85 - emphasis mine).

How totally and completely fascinating is this? If we take this at face value, prior to being something to entertain us, music was our fundamental tool of communication! How – or why – then do we then accept that it can and/or should be pushed to the background of our sensory experience, most especially in those moments of life on which we spend many thousands of dollars and many hours of planning? Doesn't doing so go against our natural sensory tendencies, tendencies that are as old as our very species?

This is certainly not to say that at every moment in life should we have music available or even that when there is music in a room or for an occasion that it must be our central focus. It is to say, however, that we must regift to music the power of our attention and award it the possibility of truly moving us and communicating to, with, and through us.

We at Five Senses Tastings hope that this comes through in our work and that our events over this Valentine's Day weekend were more meaningful as a result. We hope that those who heard and experienced our music tastings left with an expanded appreciation of the power of music – of sound – to influence our perception of our other senses, and generally to heighten our sensory experiences of a given moment in time.

HollyTales was a huge success!

The moment we finished our first event with Mikey Consbruck and his team at V Wine Room in August, I knew I had to come back for more... and more was had! What an amazing night we had last night!

The bar could not have looked more beautiful in all its sparkle, and the atmosphere was cozy and perfect for our first Holiday event of 2016! We had a lively crowd who filled the bar with laughter and appreciation, and we couldn't be more grateful for the warm reception and words of thanks we received for our music tasting.

Mikey Consbruck, Owner of V Wine Room, Adam Monte of V Cheese Shoppe, and Catherine von Ruden of EOS Chocolates arethe most amazing partners, and we feel so grateful every time we get to work with them. Their creativity in pairing and dedication to perfection in taste pairing andelegance of presentation is unmatched. Here you see Mikey preparing some of the cheese and chocolate plates... and the final result below. Doesn't it look so delicious?

As usual the wines Mikey chose for us were above and beyond delicious, interesting, and rare and it was up to us then to rise to the challenge with the musical choices as well. Luckily with Jacquelyn, Trevor, and Andrés on stage, it was pretty easy to make anything sound amazing!

Of course we presented some holiday standards (Sleigh Ride, O Holy Night, and my new favorite, Christmas in LA by Lawrence Well and his Orchestra) but I also made sure to throw in some pieces that I know would be unfamiliar to our guests. Probably the most daring piece we played was the cello movement from Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the end of time.

This piece is not "easy" to digest, but it was precisely this dis-ease that I wanted to highlight. I have always found one of the most rewarding things is when a guest approaches me at the end of a night and repeats back to me exactly what I had hoped to achieve with a particular pairing. Often I find that s/he even further enlightens me on the pairing, and it was no exception in this case as a gentleman told me that he would never have listened to this piece voluntarily but that the way it was presented together with the wine, cheese, and chocolate made it not only palatable but extraordinarily rewarding and meaningful to him. Couldn't really hope for anything more, could you?

As always, I can't thank the artists enough for their time and dedication to this difficult program. They are all a delight to work with (Jacquelyn and Andrés have now played with us several times), and I can't wait to welcome them to another music tasting soon!

Now more than ever, we need beauty

In light of recent events, I have found that some of the only solace I can find is not in the bottom of a bottle or tub of ice cream. It's actually in love, in beauty, and in music. Luckily for me, I have had to work diligently over the last week because there are musicians waiting for me to give them their selections so that they can begin practicing. One piece – well, two movements of one piece actually – have been especially poignant to me this week, and I have listened to them again and again. They are "Louange a l'éternité de Jésus" (movement V) and "Louange a l'immortalité de Jésus" (movement VII), both from the Quartet for the end of time by Messiaen.

I have been a fan of Messiaen since I sang a few of his songs in graduate school. They are not easy. In fact they are some of the most challenging music I have ever had to sing. And that is why I was again drawn to these remarkable pieces: because they embodied the discomfort I felt. They allowed me to sink into it, to sense it at a deep level. I wanted to turn the music off at times because some of the harmonies were simply too uncomfortable, but I made myself sit through them, and I am going to ask our audiences to do the same during our events in December.

Whatever your beliefs, I think we can all agree that our world is in a state of dis-ease at the moment. Turning off or ignoring those feelings is not the answer. Leaning into them, allowing ourselves to feel them, in fact, searching for ways to experience them more deeply is, I believe, our duties as citizens of this city and of this world.

I urge you to listen to these pieces (below are two of my favorite renditions), and we hope to see you on December 8th at V Wine Room in West Hollywood and December 14th at Héritage Fine Wines in Beverly Hills.

Louange a l'étérnité de Jésus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od5cGDOKXFk
Louange a l'immortalité de Jésus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82AT62o838Y

Now more than ever, beauty is absolutely essential.

 

Amplify your senses!

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Last night we presented a music and wine tasting for a few ladies from The Amplify Collective "Coterie," the exclusive membership-group at a beautiful loft in Downtown LA. As an Ambassador for the Boisset Collection, I was super excited to introduce the ladies to our Classic Tasting Experience: Wattle Creek 2015 Viognier, Alexander Valley, Buena Vista 2014 Chardonnay, Sonoma, 2014 JCB N° 12 Pinot Noir, Sonoma, DeLoach 2014 Curated Collection Malbec, Central Coast, and Raymond 2014 JC's Picks Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast.

We tried something a little different musically this time as well. We used pre-recorded music instead of live music as it simply wasn't feasible to bring musicians into this home for the event.

Co-founders Bri Seeley and Thaïs Sky were the consummate hostesses, and we loved every minute of our Amplifed full-sensory tasting!