Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 6/8/2016 (1263 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Wine and music: two of my favourite things.
I’ve spent most of my working life either peddling or writing/talking about the two. After high school I worked at both Sam the Record Man and Record Baron (remember them?) for a couple of years before going to university. Shortly after, I started working in wine stores in the city, which I did until I got the wine-writing gig here at the Free Press in 2005.
But it wasn’t until last year that I had the chance to combine the two backgrounds, thanks to an invitation from Six Shooter Records to act as "wine curator" at Interstellar Rodeo, a rootsy music festival making its debut at The Forks. The wines I chose would be served during the performance of the act they were matched with.
Pairing wine and food is fairly easy — neither should be too much heavier or spicier or sweeter than the other. Sometimes certain pairings that shouldn’t work but do; at other times a combo that should be a home run ends up being a foul ball.
But I had never paired wine and music before. At first I sweated over the details, over the rationale I could give in matching a particular wine with certain musicians, if someone asked me.
Some were pretty easy; others not so much. Sinéad O’Connor, for example, was slated to headline on the opening night; I chose a Chardonnay made by a guy named Charles Smith out of Washington State called "Eve," because I thought the religious connotations — including the label, which features an apple with a bite taken out of it — were a cheeky match with the feisty Irish singer.
Then O’Connor cancelled, and organizers announced Sarah McLachlan would be replacing her. Switching wines would have just added to the logistical nightmare, so I thought about how the Eve Chardonnay might work with her. Well, McLachlan’s music certainly has a spiritual element to it, and the Lilith of her Lilith Fair touring festival was named after Adam’s first wife (Eve came along after)
The pairings for this year’s Interstellar Rodeo (which you can preview at wfp.to/e3f) came a lot easier. I tried to keep in mind that, as with wine-and-food pairings, there are no carved-in-stone rules for matching music and wine — in fact, even fewer rules apply. Both hinge on personal preference, and both can change with mood or circumstance.
So… all this talk of wine-and-music pairing given you a hankering to check out Interstellar Rodeo? I’ve got a pair of weekend passes to next weekend’s festival (Aug. 12-14) to give away, as well as a pair of spots on the guest list to After Interstellar, the after-party happening at The Forks Food Hall on Saturday, Aug. 13.
Just send me an email with your best wine-and-musician pairing (or wine-and-song pairing) by Wednesday and you’ll be entered to win.
Cuma 2015 Torrontés (Argentina — $10.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
This organic Argentine white is bright pale straw in colour. Torrontés is a highly aromatic white wine grape, and here delivers loads of spice, tangerine, floral, red apple and slightly soapy notes on the nose. It’s a dry, crisp and juicy white, with plenty of peach, tangerine, ripe green-apple and lemon-candy flavours unencumbered by oak aging. Good for a hot summer day or with salads, mild cheeses and not-too-spicy Asian fare. ★★ 1/2
St. Hallett 2015 Poacher’s White (Barossa, Australia — $13.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
This Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend has long been a great value, and the 2015 vintage doesn’t disappoint. Ripe red apple, lime, lemongrass, and modest honeycomb and pear aromas show quite nicely. On the mostly dry, light-plus bodied palate there’s plenty of fresh, citrus-driven fruit, with modest acidity highlighting lemon and lime notes, as well as green apple. The Poacher’s offers great balance and finesse for the price... once again. ★★★1/2
Merayo 2014 Las Tres Filas Mencia (Bierzo, Spain — $18.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
This red is made entirely from the Mencia grape, an indigenous Spanish red grape. It’s an inky black red wine, with plum, licorice, mocha and espresso notes as well as some secondary vanilla notes from oak aging. It’s a plush, ripe red, with black berry notes as well as plum, spice, chocolate and modest herbal notes as well as light acidity and tannins. A bit more New World than some Spanish reds, but tasty nonetheless. ★★★
A. A. Badenhorst 2014 The Curator White Blend (Swartland, South Africa — around $16, Banville & Jones)
A blend of 50 per cent Chenin Blanc, 36 per cent Chardonnay and 14 Semillon, this unoaked South African white blend brings pear, herbal, bright honey, red apple and lanolin/floral notes on the nose. It’s a medium-bodied, rich white, with honey, red apple, peach, pear and light herbal notes that are both pleasant and complex beyond the price point. This is one of the Interstellar Rodeo wines — I paired this impressive white with the classic country sounds of Margo Price. ★★★★
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson Literary editor, drinks writer
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.