Who's coming to Venice with me this week?

"Venice is eternity itself." - Joseph Brodsky, Poet Laureate

Our Pairing of the Week this week is inspired by the sounds and flavors of 18th Century Venice. Surely one of the most magical cities in the world, especially in summertime, Venice in the 1700s was at the height of its elegance and grandeur, something to which it never quite returned after the invasion by Napoleon in 1797. 

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Music:
This week, we're listening to just one piece: Vivaldi's Gloria. You'll have to forgive me. I'm a bit obsessed with this piece as I am lucky enough to have the chance to perform it tonight at the Hollywood Bowl with the Pacific Chorale and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Honestly, regardless of whether this weekly pairing is wholly self-indulgent (and let's face it, most of them are), this piece – which I guarantee you've heard parts of  before even if you don't know it – is sublime in both subtlety and intricacy of melodic and harmonic structure and flow.

In modern speak, it's an "approachable" piece of classical music, but to leave it there would be to cheapen its value. It's so much more than that. Take the time to find those moment of utter – pardon the pun – glory. Taste the playful conversations between voices perhaps best exemplified in the 3rd movement, "Laudamus te," relish in the divine dissonances especially in the 2nd movement, "Et in terra pax" that requires epic breath control and much staggered breathing, and don't be embarrassed to shake your booty in the 6th movement, "Domine fili." Even on stage, we're all doing it just a little bit!
No, really, it's ok ... nobody's watching :)

Food:
Did you know that there is an actual Watermelon Festival? in Venice? In August? Yep, neither did I but I assure you, it's a thing. To me watermelon is one of the most playful fruits, and there is no more simple pleasure a hot summer evening than slurping on a slice of this sweet treat. It makes me think of kids grabbing a piece between cannonballs in a swimming pool or people passing slices around at a backyard BBQ. Better yet, try mixing the leftover watermelon juice into your glass of...

Drink:
...what else, Prosecco! The Italian version of sparkling wine is a summer necessity but do yourself a favor and go to an actual wine store, talk to an actual person, and pick out something that isn't La Marca, ok? You can thank me later.

Now, throw open the windows or go out on the porch and enjoy this delectable summer pairing!

Napa Valley never disappoints!!

I know, I know there are a bajillion other wine regions in the world equally as fabulous as Napa Valley but come on, it's just gorgeous up there! I had the chance to meet with a few really special wineries and hang out at some cool new wine bars. Happy to share my top three!

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1) Trinchero Family Estates, St. Helena

It's impossible to overstate the value of having a personal connection anywhere and most especially at a winery. I could not be more effusive in my positive comments about the staff and the whole experience at Trinchero Family Estates. From the beautiful, newly renovated tasting room to the extra touch of a free cheese plate and a bottle of wine, every moment at Trinchero was peaceful, fun, and kind of just like a big sunny, wine hug. Thank you all for your hospitality!

 

 

 

2) Wente Vineyards, Livermore

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It surprised me to learn how many of my wine-drinking friends had not heard of Wente Vineyards, especially since this is a brand you can often find in large grocery stories. I can only chock it up to the fact that this remarkable place is in Livermore, not Napa or Sonoma, and so it requires making a whole separate trip to go visit it. They are in the midst of their amazing summer concert series featuring names like Diana Krall and Alanis Morisette. I had the chance to meet with the President of Wente, Amy Hoopes, who was incredibly gracious, arranging a full tasting even though the tasting room was shut at the time I was there. This vineyard has a lot of history, and there was a lot of synergy between their philosophy and ours. Both unassuming and dedicated to the importance of specificity, Wente crafts wines that represent the five generations of family history and a true sense of dedication to learning what their customers want.

3) The Saint, St. Helena

Open only a month when I stopped in, you'd have thought this wine bar had been around for decades. The two gentlemen behind the bar seemed so at ease in the space – one of them told me it was his first day on the job but I would never have known that – and it felt almost like an English country manor of sorts. Previously a bank, the space was cavernous, in a good way, with the original vault door a slightly imposing though beautiful decorative addition. I really appreciated that their wine list wandered beyond the region in which it's situated. I went for a South African Chenin Blanc, but I could have made a veritable trip around the world had I had the time. The only thing I'd encourage them to do is quickly update the website with their wine menu so that you can see their wonderful selections!

Beat the summer heat with our music, wine, and food pairings!

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This week, we're listening to all the tunes we need to beat the summer heat! Start off with ... well, of course, "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles, move on to "Seaside" by the Kooks, sink your teeth into the hilarious song, "Tale of the Oyster," by Cole Porter (and maybe pop one in your mouth, too!), and end with the anthem of all summer anthems, "Surfin' USA" by the Beach Boys.

I am of the belief that no dish is complete without pasta (come on, you know I'm right!) so this week we're digging into the it's-on-every-Italian-menu-in-summertime seafood linguine in a light tomato sauce paired with the 2013 Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay. Beautiful balance and a long finish are enhanced by a touch of refreshing minerality and make it a perfect pairing for this flavorful dish and our fun-loving summer tunes!

Still in conference recovery mode?

Sharing a booth with our friends at Bitchfix at the BizBash LA Expo.

Sharing a booth with our friends at Bitchfix at the BizBash LA Expo.

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As a thank you to all those who stopped by our booth at BizBash, we created a special Music and Wine Pairing for the Recovering Conference Goer. Your ears are probably still ringing from all that talking, so we've curated some lovely (wordless) musical selections as well as a yummy food and wine pairing!

Songs without words, you say? Hallelujah! For a mixture of genres – because that's what we're all about at Five Senses Tastings, first try Rachmaninoff's "Vocalise," either the vocal or the cello version then finish off and indulge yourself in some "Summer Madness" by Kool & the Gang.

For our tasting treats today, we have a Super Tuscan, the Bran Caia 2013 "Tre" (80% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) paired with spicy hummus wrapped in phyllo dough with cherry tomatoes and rosemary garnish. 

BranCaia_Tre_Super_Tuscan

A Super Tuscan calls for a big and hearty meat dish, right? Not in the heat of summer it doesn't! You can absolutely find red wines that are perfect for warm summer nights, and here's a great example. This lovely wine from Tuscany is dense and powerful in flavor yet still soft with an elegant finish. Chill it slightly before opening and serve it with with some homemade spicy hummus wrapped in phyllo dough. A generous sprig of rosemary is not only a lovely garnish but adds a perfect aromatic pairing.

We'll be in the Bay Area in August!

We're super duper excited to have been asked to present a music tasting at the divine Domenico Winery in San Carlos, CA, up in the Bay Area. We've been so busy here in LA but we're always looking to make new friends and take our events to new places!

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Our event will showcase a new format: guests will be blindfolded as they "taste" a piece of music. No food, no wine, no other senses triggered, just their sense of sound. When the piece is complete, they will be served their wine and food pairing and the blindfold will, of course, be removed. After a few minutes, the piece will resume and be played a second time. This time all five senses are being triggered together. After the conclusion of the second playing guests will be encouraged to discuss their experiences. Did they "taste" the music any differently the second time? Did the food taste any different on its own or when the music was playing? Did any sense jump to life (or decide to hide) in this experience?

The event, "Experience Domenico: A Full-Sensory Journey through Italian-American Culture," will take place on Saturday August 5th from 7-10 pm at Domenico Winery. Tickets will be available for purchase soon! 

Taste the music™!

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. 

Joao_Gilberto_Bossa_Nova

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!