From fine words to wine music

As a beginning wine enthusiast, a few years ago, I wanted to learn the appropriate terminology for taking detailed and correct wine tasting notes. As usual, I turned to my “wine mentor” Matthieu; he could easily explain me the basics of wine vocabulary. However this time he didn’t give any answers but introduced an interesting counter-question: “Why don’t you try describing wine with music?”

Describing wine with music! I’m a musician, and it had crossed my mind a couple of times, but I thought I’d better learn to use the universal wine language; you know, those cool terms that all the credible wine-connoisseurs use; round, oaky, tannic, earthy, spicy and so on. After a couple of discussions with Matthieu, however, the “wine inspiration” idea, as we called it then, started to make more and more sense.

Music would be quite 20150506_18-27-15a subjective wine language, I had to admit. But I’m writing the wine tasting notes mainly for myself, so couldn’t I be as subjective as I want? The most important benefit of taking tasting notes is that it helps me to structure my thoughts and analyse the wines more deeply. Writing with musical notes, instead of words, wouldn’t exclude that benefit.

Taking tasting notes also helps me to keep track of the wines I like and the ones I don’t. Using music would emphasise the fact that I prefer not to give “absolute” reviews, like 93/100 points for this wine and 87 points for the other one. After all, isn’t the concept of wine ratings a bit misleading? My impressions of one and the same wine can be very different depending on the situation and the context. Okay, giving points can be justified when criticising the technical aspect of the wine, but again, that’s not what I’m aiming to do.

And apropos “the universal wine language”, music brings an interesting aspect here as well; even though music is much more abstract than any spoken language, it can be understood – at least to a certain degree – anywhere in the world.

So that’s it! I was convinced that it would make sense to translate wine into music. So let’s go for it! But… how? What is the connection between wine and music exactly? Would it be possible to create whole compositions based on certain wines?

We can start by thinking that music is sounds painted on the time dimension. Then wine, it’s exactly the same thing, just that the sounds are replaced with aromas and tastes. Time is the important bridge between music and wine, the two very profound arts, and makes it possible to link them to each other in many fascinating ways. How do I exploit this idea in composing – well, that will be a subject of another post.

Tuomas A. Turunen | TheWineComposer 2015



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