In this episode, we discuss wine pairings on multiple dimensions. First, Bryce Wiatrak interviews Master of Wine Susan R Lin MW about her career as a classical pianist and how her first passion inspired the topic of her MW Research Paper: pairing Champagne with classical music. Then, Bryce and Christopher Tanghe dive into a friendly debate to settle the question of whether wine and food pairings are all they’re cracked up to be.
This month’s blind tasting segment with Emily Nixon features sommelier Jonathan Eichholz. Are you able to recognize the wine based on Jonathan’s description alone? Wanda Cole-Nicholson also reveals the wine she tasted in last month’s Managing New & Old Vines episode.
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Susan Lin, MW is the Head of Wine Expertise for online fine wine retailer Belmont Wine Exchange. As a consultant she curates wine collections, designs wine programs, and specializes in wine and spirits music pairings and events. A lifelong devotee of music, Susan is a classical pianist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Classical Piano Performance and Musicology. She has performed internationally as a Chinese classical and folk dancer.
Susan was named Master of Wine in February 2021 upon the acceptance of her research paper, Influences of classical music on the perception of a Brut non-vintage Champagne. She enjoys working with performing arts organizations to grow their audiences through innovative programming and events, integrating wine whenever possible. Susan is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
During her conversation with Bryce, Susan describes three classical pieces she used in her Master of Wine research. Listen to them on her Apple Music playlist.
Jonathan Eichholz is a sommelier in New York City. While he studied neuroscience and history in college, his focus soon shifted to wine after spending a summer working at Murray’s Cheese. Since graduating from Colby College, Jonathan has served as a sommelier at Michelin-starred restaurants Aquavit and The Modern. In 2019, Jonathan was named Best Young Sommelier in America and Second-Best Young Sommelier in The World. He is an Advanced Sommelier, Certified Cicerone, and New York hip-hop aficionado.
Early in the episode, Wanda Cole-Nicholson returns to reveal the wine she tasted with Emily in the Managing New & Old Vines Episode in July. If you haven't heard Wanda's tasting description yet, listen to the final 11 minutes of that episode. You can find the wine here.
Wanda's wine and spirits career began in Chicago’s fine dining restaurants and institutions, including ¡Salpicón!, Mercat a la Planxa, NaHa, Blue Water Grill, Kendall College, and Triton College. She is the founder and principal of VinBev, which provides a host of wine consulting services, and is also a wine specialist for Grapevine Wines and Spirits in Kirkwood, Missouri.
Wanda’s formal education includes the Advanced Sommelier certification from The Court of Master Sommeliers and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Missouri. She has received the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, an Award of Distinction from Wine Enthusiast, and a DiRoNA Award of Excellent, among other awards. Wanda resides in Chesterfield, Missouri with her husband and twin five-year-olds.
One of the most unique and interesting wine tastings I have had was at the Donatella Cinelli Colombini winery in Montalcino, at which they pair each wine with a piece of music. It was a wide range of styles, like pairing Miles Davis' "Round Midnight" with Rosso di Montalcino and Frank Zappa's "Mother People" with Vin Santo.
Dick, as I was with Chris Tanghe, I agree 100% with your line of reasoning.
Big fan of music, wine and research. I listen to music all day, whatever I'm doing. I have a BFA in jazz guitar. But this all sounds like an exercise in "hey, let's study this... thing... and try to find a correlation." It's there if you want it to be. I'll drink a great Beaujolais while listening to Rancid. Then I might put on Jim Hall. Then, early Miles Davis. Then Stravinsky. Then late Miles Davis. Then Zappa's most inappropriate song you can imagine. My wine remains great. Fun research, but I fail to see the end game. Agree on food/wine pairings. Fun times, but Nirvana (the state, not the band) is ... maybe out there somewhere? Casual wine drinkers will find this stuff another level of WTF. The marketers will fuck it up. Let's study bird calls, and which bird matches best with .... zzzzzzzz.
I was very entertained by both segments of this podcast. I have a couple of comments: 1) Although Susan's research was confined to Champagne and classical music, I think this is only the tip of the iceberg. My mind kept drifting to a much broader selection - What about other wine styles, beer, & cocktails paired with other genres of music - rock, hip hop, jazz, country, etc? There would definitely be a correlated neurological response between cetain songs and what someone would be consuming as both are linked to memories. 2) I 100% side with Chris on the debate of the validity of wine and food pairings. The golden rule of food pairing (there are no rules - drink what you desire) should always reign supreme. But - pairing uni in a sushi restaurant with an Uco Valley Malbec is just wrong. There are much better choices. And this principle holds true for all foods and beverages on the planet. This is not debatable. It's science. And more importantly it's pure chemistry. As humans, our gustatory and organoleptic systems are individually unique, but we still have enough in common to understand why a grilled ribeye would pair much better with a cabernet sauvignon than a riesling. And I would like to take this further by stating that if we abide by these same rules of science....beer is actually a better pairing for most cuisines of the world than any other alcoholic beveerage. Wine is one dimensional while beer is multi demensional. With wine we are trying to bridge similarities with structure and flavor. With beer, there is also contrasting and carbonation which create another world. And most Cicerone's will agree with me. This is highly debatable and I welcome your comments. Thanks again Guildsomm for the Podcast.
You have every right to your opinions and I am glad you stand behind them. I shall have mine own and always welcome professional discussions.