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How to Pair Iberian Wine and Music: An Introduction

Editor’s Note: Burt Frink is not only a close friend of ours, but one of the most cultured individuals we’ve ever met. His ability to explain an opera, cook a 18th century French dish or dance the waltz with immense grace and dignity is astounding to our X Generation spirits. Thus, after the vast interest we received on our comparison piece on classical music and wine, Burt has taken a personal interest to chime in on a series dedicated to the subject. Now although Burt will be applying international grapes, regions or wines to a specific musical piece, we’ll make sure to add a Spanish or Portuguese compliment – as we are an Iberian wine site. Thanks Burt for your knowledge and passion.

I listen to Schwarzkopf while I take early-evening baths.

Sometimes I also play Miles Davis, Chris Connor, Bev Kelly, Alfred Cortot or Mafalda Favero – but best for baths is Schwarzkopf, because her faultless voice carries so well above running water, and because her precise pitch and narrow vibrato recall me to highest principles. The music comes from speakers in a far room, so the piano accompaniment fades into inaudibility, and Schwarzkopf’s voice alone penetrates my sanctuary.

I was moved to resurrect this illuminating quote from Wayne Koestenbaum‘s critical remarks in the New Yorker from early September of 1996 upon reading Gabriella’s post regarding her experience at a concert in Barcelona. Early evening baths while listening to opera and a train ride home after a concert? What has this to do with wine? Stay with me. (Flickr photo by Just_Me_T)

Wine and classical music are lively arts that engage the most personal part of our imaginations. One we put to our lips, the other we invite into our ears, and both for some unexplained reason penetrate our soul. It is no mystery why musical terms are often used in wine descriptions. The languages of both are an attempt to explain an emotional occurrence. This is about our personal response to someone else’s creation. Often it opens up a dialogue between the several parts of ourselves. That includes curiosity, memory and all that good stuff. And sometimes the not so good stuff. The nagging. The self doubt and the intimidation. An uninvited voice enters the head and like an ear worm intrudes on your sanctuary and poof, the joy is taken over.

In both classical music and wine you find a subject so giant that it seems impossible to ever know enough. The more you know the more you realize how much more there is to know. They are life long studies and that truly is the joy of wine and the joy of classical music.

All right. But what about the bath and the train ride?

In keeping with the personal emotions of a hot bath or a lonely train ride it is valuable to recognize that these are the imagining times. On these occasions you are most yourself. You are talking with your best friend and most brittle critic. You are likely as perfectly honest as you can ever be.

I come to sing the praise of privacy.

We make too much of the shared properties of wine. Social occasions, gatherings, tastings.

Noise! Noise! Noise!

I invite you to listen to some tasty music in the company of your favorite person: moi.

These will be the wine and classical music combinations that fit the private moments of my life. Just like there isn’t an answer to the question; what is your favorite wine? There is no single answer to what is my favorite wine and classical music combination. So in a series of postings, I will divide this notion into categories of my choosing to go with the wines of my choosing. They will include chamber music, vocal recital, instrumental recital, strings, orchestral performance and odd bits of music for those odd bottles of wine you discover on sale. Other categories may join as I move through the ideas. Catavino will then come in and add their two cents on which Iberian wines would also be complimentary. Hence, you get the best of all worlds.

What this is about is more than wine and more than classical music.

What this is truly about is sanctuary. Gabriella’s private time on a train after a concert that moved her. Almost certainly going home to a glass of wine that she also hopes will move her. Each in its own way and each in its own time are part of her personal sanctuary where she is most herself.

My music. My wine. Myself.

Burt Fink

Editor’s Note – Click to read Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of the series here!

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