Whether I introduce what I do as “sensory storytelling,” “musical wine tasting,” “wine and chocolate tasting,” “full-sensory events that bring music, wine, cheese, and chocolate together to tell our clients’ unique stories,” or any combination of the above, the inevitable follow-up question is still a bit of a side eye, and that question: “So, how do you pair music and wine?”
So I thought I’d take a moment and answer that question for you.
All of us have stories to tell. Whether we are celebrating an anniversary or the launch of a new branch of our multi-million dollar business, everything is grounded in story. After all, our story is our power, isn’t it? (BTdubs, I can’t take credit for that little nugget of gold; that goes to the incredible Dolores Huerta, or, at least, the first time I heard this idea was from her.)
From our earliest days, we learn that stories are housed in books or perhaps in our memories. Both are true, of course, but they are enlivened, given structure and specificity, and recalled over time through our sense memory.
It was a cold, dark evening….
The smell of lilac was all around us as we…
We had just finished a delicious bowl of Nonna’s homemade spaghetti bolognese when…
The dull thud of the drum circle kept going all night…
It is precisely this idea of how our senses trigger our memories and our many and varied life experiences that serves as the foundation for our events. Whether we’re presenting a Live Music Tasting or one of our Tasting Tables, the structure and set up of the experience is the same. The only difference is that our live events have musicians who play a wide variety of musical styles depending on the stories we are telling. Our Tasting Tables offer music played through personal noise-canceling headphones.
Our music and wine tasting events are always guided by a story. This could be a person, an event, a time of year, a special occasion, a product, or anything you choose. We determine the overarching theme to the event and then divide our stories into acts, or courses, if you want to use food and wine lingo. Each act will then assume a sensory identity, which is provided by the music, food, beverage, and sweet treat offerings.
During our live music tasting events, we guide our guests through the experience, highlighting particular sounds played by the musicians, flavors, textures, aromas, etc as they pertain to the sections of the evening’s story. But how do you pair music and wine with a large group or when the acoustics of a room or building might not lend itself to live music? Our Tasting Tables use more of a self-guided approach where guests take themselves through the sensory journey, listening to our musical selections, which are curated on an iPad and played wireless, through noise-canceling headphones.
The first time we offered this service was for the Adobe Executive Experience Summit in Las Vegas in April 2019 at the Venetian. Over 300 employees and partners who use Adobe products in their work came together for a multi-day conference and summit, and we were privileged to participate in the opening night celebration. I remember thinking to myself… wait, the PDF guys? How am I going to tell that story through music and wine! Well, Adobe is a company but behind the name are humans and heart and ideas and creativity and ambition… all things that are very easily described through sensory elements such as the chocolate we provided by Jean-Marie Auboine Chocolatier and the music we carefully paired with each tasting element.
So if you want to know how it works…
It works by breaking down the stories of our lives into the elements that make it unique, attaching meaning to those elements, and then finding tastes, sounds, and emotions that bring those elements to life. By doing so, they can be recalled time and again long after the event has concluded.