Can Music Influence your Champagne Tasting Experience?
20th November 2020
Music is said to hold magical healing powers for both the mind and the body. From soothing stress levels to being seen as hugely beneficial for people living with dementia (Alzheimer’s Wiltshire). There is a lot more to music than simply tuning in to find out who leads the charts this week.
“New Orleans, October 16, 2012 – You walk into a bar and music is thumping. This finding extends the well-known power of music to tap into brain circuits controlling emotion and movement, to actually control the brain circuitry of sensory perception.” source Scientifica American
How we are blessed with such a variety of music to suit our preferences, to suit the mood, atmosphere, occasion and even that glass of Champagne in your hand. From rock and roll to classical master pieces, maybe a touch of funk, blues or jazz plus a sprinkling of Reggae too – Music comes in all shapes and forms.
LP’s to DVD’s, headphones to flat screen TV’s, music surrounds us from soundtracks of movies to those adverts on television annoyingly challenging our brains with ‘where have I heard that song before‘. Artists add another dimension and endless choice from Al Martino to Frankie Goes to Hollywood, from Franz Schubert to Chas and Dave.
Music can cheer us, console us and set the mood for the evening ahead. From loud music annoying the neighbours next door to a lazy afternoon in the park listening to a brass band on the bandstand. Music is played when we get married and usually favourites chosen to send us off. Many researchers will share that music can work its way in to brain circuits thus effecting our control of emotions and movements, ultimately controlling the brain circuitry of sensory perception.
Now we must share a few words of Champagne. Maybe not as diverse as music, but nonetheless Champagne can offer an wide variation of aromas, flavours and feelings. Different terroir, different grapes, different wine makers and plenty of different ages to enjoy – Champagne can give us a fair bit of variety that got us thinking about combining ‘Music’ and ‘Champagne’ chez Glass of Bubbly – A kind of speed dating exercise.
Can Music Influence your Champagne tasting experience?
We decided to pic out two very different Champagne labels along with a selection of four different styles of music. With headphones ready, wines chilled and pen / paper to hand, we set about exploring the combination of sounds waves and bubbles:
Champagne Royal Riviera (RR) – Gold Medal 2020 ‘Creamy‘ category
Tasting notes: “A soft creamy citrus nose with added yellow stone fruits. I am getting why this year the Champagne was awarded gold in the Creamy Category. Smooth flavours, hits of citrus zestiness with a subtle soft / creamy background giving a balanced tasting experience.”
Champagne Laurent Lequart (LL) – Trophy Winner 2020 ‘Vintage‘ category
Tasting notes: “Soft dried walnut, bruised banana skin, green fruits on the nose. Crisp and nutty flavours. Golden yellow fruit freshness with minerals, touch of white pepper, citrus in the palate. A bold Champagne for bold gastronomy delights.”
Rather than deciding before what music / track we thought would go best with each Champagne, we picked out a random selection of songs offering very different styles of music – Wine journalists Christopher and Oliver shared their tasting notes and thoughts below (sometimes quite a difference of opinions are recorded). The chosen tracks were:
Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata:
Champagne RR – Christopher: “Music is overpowering. The music is deep and relaxing and the Champagne doesn.t take you down the same route. Clashes in my mind, the flavours of the Champagne are not deep enough and is instead light and refreshing.”
Champagne LL – Christopher: “The music helps to open your mind to the deep complexity of the Champagne enabling you to appreciate the many layers of aromas and flavours. It’s a masterpiece of music and a fast learning junior apprentice in the glass.”
Champagne RR – Oliver: “You feel a stronger desire to look at and appreciate the bubbles in the glass more over tasting the Champagne which for me was only expressing a citrus character.”
Champagne LL – Oliver: “For me, this is a track that makes me want to just sit and watch life pass you by in all it wonders. I felt the urge to see the bubbles dance round the glass more than to taste a fine Champagne. The Champagne is way to complex for this mood of music, it is too bold for this deep and dark piece from Beethoven.”
The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Official Lyric Video):
Champagne RR – Christopher: “The music is alive and kicking, it is sharp and fresh thus for me matches the Champagne style which is zesty and young in style. This songs calls for fresh bubbles and the Royal Riviera stepped up to the challenge it faced and certainly gives you satisfaction in this combination.”
Champagne LL – Christopher: “I can not concentrate on the Champagne at all and I know it deserves more attention from me. I am getting negative flavours from the Champagne only. The two do not pair well together – The music camouflages the excellence of the wine.”
Champagne RR – Oliver: “The song changes my mood yet the Champagne did not here. Not sure that this is the best song for my mind for this Champagne style.”
Champagne LL – Oliver: “A clash between the worker (song) and the boss (wine). The detailed elegance of the Champagne is lost in the glass when this song is played alongside it – Mick Jagger, I am afraid, spoilt the experience of the Champagne in my glass.”
Jamiroquai – Space Cowboy (Classic Radio mix) Remix – David Morales:
Champagne RR – Christopher: “I am not getting a good mix here. I am listening to this tune and all I am thinking about is drinking a glass of spirit with ice. The tune is not allowing me to get in to the mood for bubbles.”
Champagne LL – Christopher: “It’s nearly there for me – I am able to get positive energies from and enjoy both. I feel that I am tasting elegance and hearing it also. Champagne is still superior during this experience, I can experience all its complexity. The music was like the child and the wine was the adult.”
Champagne RR – Oliver: “Neither found a dance partner in this pairing which didn’t go well.”
Champagne LL – Oliver: “The depth of the wine is lost, you are left with the citrus aromas and flavours mostly.”
Aretha Franklin – I say a little prayer:
Champagne RR – Christopher: “Not too bad a balance here. The song feels fresh and smooth and I get that from the zestiness citrus and creamy character of the Champagne.”
Champagne LL – Christopher: “The music is pleasantly carrying me of in to the distance and the Champagne is bringing me back again. It’s quite a conflicting arrangement here, neither compliment each other.”
Champagne RR – Oliver: “A great song and a great Champagne, but not much love between them when paired.”
Champagne LL – Oliver: “A heavenly voice is met with a rising angel. A fantastic wine, just performing a little too boldly to create that match made in heaven.”
“After tasting the Royal Riviera and it’s explosive, fresh citrus character I felt a tune more applicable would be what is deemed as war related, Fortunate Son by Creedance Clearwater Revival came to mind. We will repeat ‘Music and Champagne’ again very soon, I think we can come up with better suggestions and far more matching tracks to the aromas and flavours each wine holds.” Oliver Walkey
Champagne Royal Riviera sent us their Spotify list of songs they have selected to enjoy whilst drinking: https://open.spotify.com/user/1260888074/playlist/4xrPyzBazf3sI35uPgBd8J?si=QMwj-r36RNyh91MzJhanEA
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.