Betty's Wine Musings
Music and Wine ~ from
Music and Wine ~ from

We love trying different foods with different wines to figure out which pairings work best. How about doing the same with music and wine?

According to, “There is growing scientific evidence to demonstrate how the brain perceives music… Through this enhanced understanding,… winemaker Clark Smith has extensively investigated how music and wine are actually closely linked and can enhance one another. It turns out that the peak experience isn’t just in the recording nor the bottle – it’s at its best appreciated through harmonizing both and opening up new possibilities to explore new ways to enhance our enjoyment and even help us tap into those unforgettable peak experiences.

“We all have heard that wine and food can taste better if well matched. Smith’s studies show that wine preferences can be strongly influenced by music. ‘The more we explore it, the more mysterious wine seems. It appears to provide a mirror to our feelings,’ says Smith, who is also an Adjunct Professor at California State University at Fresno. ‘We associate different wine types with different moods, just as we do with music. When the wine and the music match, both improve. When they clash, it can be awful!'”

I’m guessing that the author’s use of the word “awful” is a bit overstated. But I can imagine that a smooth wine like a Pinot Noir would pair better with soothing music than would a big bad red like a Cabernet.

Here are three ideas for hosting a music and wine pairing. With all of them, I would provide my guests with a glass for each wine so they can go back and forth trying the different wines with the different musical numbers. I would also give each guest a voting sheet, and I would make sure to set aside a lot of time to talk about the results.

Approach 1: Host Provides Music and Wine

All you need is a variety of music and a variety of wines. I recommend that you have four to six varieties of wine that are really different. Perhaps start with a sparkling wine. Follow that up with a crisp white such as a Sauvignon Blanc and then a buttery, oaky Chardonnay. On the red side, perhaps start with a Tempranillo followed by a Zinfandel followed by a Cabernet. The possible combinations are endless!

Have everybody try each of the wines and write notes about their experiences.

On the music front, choose 10 to 12 musical pieces. Have people take notes about what wines they think would go well with each piece.

Play the music repeatedly as people try the actual pairs to see what they like best.

Ask your guests to give a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for their favorite three musical numbers for each wine. Add things up to see if there’s any consistency, and have fun discussing the results.

Approach 2: Guests Bring Music

Before the get together, tell your guests to bring three of their favorite songs or pieces of music. You could say anything goes, or you could stick with certain kinds of music, say instrumental or jazz. Then line up your bottles and play the music, about a minute or so of each. The guests then sip the various wines, nibble the food and choose which pieces of music they think pairs best with which wines. Again, have fun discussing the results.

Approach 3: Everybody Brings Music and Wine

Ask each of your guests to bring a wine and three musical numbers they think are interesting pairs. As the host, you do the same, plus you provide the light appetizers. Make sure no one knows who brought what music or wine (except for the host). At the end, the guest with the most votes for Best Pair wins a prize.

What’s the most fun about a music and wine pairing? The wine, of course! Well, it’s also fun to be exposed to new music artists, and food is always a great draw.

Please share your music and wine pairing experiences with us!


BettyPhotoCircularAs an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home




As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

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  1. Oh Woww!! This is just extraordinary. I know we love music if it gets played while we are sipping wine but never thought of always pairing it. Will love to try it with my guests at my next party!!

  2. My friend (sommelier/musician) and I (cellist) make combination events at his wine bar. Some weeks before, I play to him (for instance a complete Bach suite), then he records it, listens, and chooses wine based on his associations. Then before I play each movement, I get to taste the wine he’s chosen and so am affected the other way too. It’s a magical thing, quite abstract but still done with a high level of skill. Thanks for writing about this, it’s such an exciting world of cross-sensory input!

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