I’m asked the following question – or some version of this question – all the time.

“So… what music goes with [insert name of grape]?”

It’s an unanswerable question of course but sometimes there’s little use in engaging with someone who just wants a short, nicely packaged answer. Contrary to the little literature out there about the specifics of how to pair wine and music, I don’t believe that a grape and a genre of music can be considered a perfect match. Each grape and each genre – each bottle and each song even – are so unique as to be impossible to generalize into a pairing that will work every time. I thought I might answer this question with one of my favorite grapes: Bonarda, Argentina’s lesser-known grape.

Malbec lovers: listen up!

Though not nearly as well known as Malbec (originally a French grape from Bordeaux, or course), Bonarda deserves all the accolades and reputation that Malbec enjoys in today’s world. Before we get into the details of this grape, let’s talk about some music here because, well, here at Five Senses Tastings, we think music and sound should be at the forefront of storytelling.

Evaristo Carriego (1883-1912) was an Argentinian poet, whose ancestor moved from Valladolid, Spain, to Argentina at the end of the 18th century. His fame is today largely due to the biography Jorge Luis Borges wrote about him, and to this tango piece.  Written by Eduardo Rovira, the tango was recorded by Osvaldo Pugliese’s orchestra in 1969, and has since been an all-time favorite of milongeros and tango aficionados.

The combination of the strongly rhythmical bandoneón and piano in the base and the cello’s lyrical melody line seems to invite tango dancers to be at once grounded and flying – to infuse in the listeners a sense of harmony through multiplicity. The piece conjures up a unique sense of theatricality through its variations in moods and tempi, and the alternation between intense dramatic bright solos and dark engulfing ensemble moments. From the summits of passion to the depths of illness, this iconic tango condenses the emotions of the poet’s 29-year life, engaging its listeners in a full sensory and artistic experience of life and death.

This music evokes a dark, brooding sense of passion, and we were immediately drawn to a wine with drama and depth, but also one that shows tremendous personality. Two wines again came to mind. The first: a Taurasi from the Campania region of Italy. Taurasi is a DOCG wine whose unique volcanic soils make for some incredibly deep and complex wines from the Aglianico grape (a relatively unknown grape). In a nod to Argentina, you might expect we’d default to Malbec, but not this time. To be sure, Malbecs can often be dark and emotional wines with incredible character and versatility, but we prefer to invite you to try the lesser known Bonarda, a grape that piqued our interest. When Bonarda is from older vines, it can be wild, scrumptious, and dramatic. Try looking for Durigutti Bonarda from the Mendoza region, or a classic Taurasi, called “Radici” from the producer Mastroberardino.

Be amazed!

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