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Pairing Wine and Music (or the joys of Cross-modal Correspondences)

How does music influence wine taste? Is it just emotional mood setting or do our brains make some cross-modal correspondence?

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Pairing Wine and Music (or the joys of Cross-modal Correspondences)
Pairing Wine and Music (or the joys of Cross-modal Correspondences)

Time & Location

17 Oct 2023, 18:30 – 20:30

Royal Air Force Club - Sovereign Room, 128 Piccadilly, London W1J 7PY, UK


Mendelssohn and merlot. Led Zeppelin and zinfandel. Adele and albarino. Does experiencing one influence the other? And is it just emotional mood setting or is there some ‘cross-modal synaesthesia’ going on, as some academic researchers and Masters of Wine have suggested?

The Capital Branch held its own pseudo-scientific experiment pairing wines and music, led by two of our experts - a DipWSET head of wine for a major corporate caterer and a keyboardist with a Royal College of Music MSc degree. The evening ended up being (in equal parts) educational, experimental, entertaining, and ensuring that pounding heads would prevail the next morning. 

The attendees - some of whom had been rather nonplussed walking into the room - universally came away convinced that a link does indeed exist between the characteristics of music and wine. The most emphatic proof of this was when we played a song by Adele (I Drink Wine) paired with a Rioja. The organizers had thought that the pairing would work. However, on the night, a vast majority of faces were frowning, and heads shaking. A consensus 'NO'. When we played an alternative track - Tito Puente's Oye Como Va - to the same wine, heads started to bob, and smiles lit the room.

The full running order of wines and music is below.

In the third flight, we asked participants to individually assign their own pairings of the three wine and music pieces. The results were as follows:

Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev) – a clear majority paired it with a St Emilion.

Sweet Lullaby (Deep Forest) – a majority paired it with Pinot Bianco, followed closely by the Pinot Noir.

Freddie Freeloader (Miles Davis) – an equal number paired it with the St Emilion and Pinot Noir

What was the pairing of the night? A wonderful New Zealand chardonnay with Bach's cello suite no. 1. People might not automatically associate chardonnay with cello. But the warm timbre and elegant legato-played melody of the Bach interwove perfectly with the crisp yet round expressiveness of the NZ wine. 1 + 1 = 3. 

We've already received requests for a follow-up event along the same theme, so watch this space ...


     Music Track

Rose – Secret de Leoube 2022

     Live music

Flight 1

Sauvignon Blanc – Touraine Gosseaume 2022

     Estampes L.100 (Debussy) (to 1:38)

Malbec – Signature Susan Balbo 2019

     Vocalise Op 34 No. 14 for Cello and Piano (Rachmaninoff) (to 1:37)

Champagne – Pannier NV

     Carnival of the Animals – Aquarium (Saint Saens) (to 1:12)

     Violin Concerto 3rd movement (Brahms) (to 1:15)

Flight 2

Chardonnay -Kumeu River Estate 2021

     Cello Suite no. 1 (Bach) (entirety 2.5 minutes)

Rioja Gran Reserva – Ramon Bilbao 2015

     I Drink Wine (Adele) (to 2:11)

     superceded by Oye Como Va (Tito Puente)

Flight 3

Edmond de Rothschild St Emilion 2018

     Romeo and Juliet Dance of the Knights (Prokofiev) (to 1:56)

Pinot Noir – Organic Seresin Estate 2022

     Sweet Lullaby (Deep Forest) (to 2:09)

Pinot Bianco – Russiz Superiore 2016

     Freddie Freeloader (Miles Davis) (to 2:13)

Flight 4

Mystery Wine

     Nocturne in E-Flat Major (Chopin) (to 2:13)

Mystery Wine

     Soul Vibrations (HipHarp Collective) (to 2:15)


  • Non Member

    +£1.38 service fee
    Sale ended
  • Member

    +£1.20 service fee
    Sale ended



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