I decided to take an art class in my last year of Law School. It was the year 2000, and the teacher was a very eccentric person. He taught us History of Art, and in one of his classes, he presented us with a fascinating concept: that art and music are better understood when analyzed together. For instance, to understand Picasso’s painting, especially his Cubism era, we had to listen to Igor Stravinsky. He suggested for students to go to a museum, with our MP3 filled with songs from the Classical composers. Once there, If we look at a Baroque painting, we should listen to Johann Sebastian Bach, if one look into an art from a Romantic era, such as Delacroix or Goya, we had to listen to Beethoven. I thought that the concept was curious but incredibly helpful at the time.
I finished the course, finished the Law School and started working as an attorney. After years working as a lawyer, I decided to change careers and went into the wine business, first as a wine writer and Podcaster and now as Director of Education for Florida Wine Academy, a wine education company. When I arrived in Miami, I started reading a lot about Art Basel, one of the most important art fairs in the world. So I had the idea, why not pair wine and art?
Pairing wine and art
For you to understand the concept, look at the painting above. It represents The Grand Canal in Venice, painted by Jean-Claude Monet in 1908. Would you pair this painting with a fresh and floral rose wine, with aromas of citrus fruit and red berries, such as a Provence rose or a Bardolino, from the Veneto region? Or would you better pair it with a very tannic Malbec from Argentina, full-bodied, with black fruit flavors and high alcohol? Of course, there is no right answer for the question, but If I look at the painting and listen to Debussy, I would pick the rose wine. The colors in the picture and the atmosphere Monet shared, invites me to taste something more floral, more delicate than the Argentinian Malbec.
On the other hand, If I think that one of these Grand Canal paintings was sold for $35 million in 2015, I might want to pair it with another type of wine. A possible candidate will be a sweet Sauternes, such as a Chateau D’Yquem, one of the best and rarest sweet wines in the world, which sells for about $ 250 a half bottle.
Now take a look at this painting by Edvard Munch. He painted “The Scream” in 1910 and would never imagine that this work of art would be used today as an emoji. The art reveals a desperate person and the skies were painted red as blood or fire. I would pair this piece of art with a California Zinfandel, full bodied and with high alcohol, aromas of black and red fruits, and spices. In this case, the bolder the wine, the better the pairing.
Now, let’s take a look at the picture above. This Pyramid was idealized by American artist Sol LeWitt’s. The sculpture is clean and accurate, and I would choose the same type of wine to pair with it. A dry and mineral Riesling, with high acidity and pure and precise fruit, would be my choice for this pairing.
Art Basel in Miami
Art Basel opens in Miami in 9 days. The Miami Beach edition will have 269 galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa showing works from artists of Modern and contemporary art. If you go to Art Basel this year, take a look at Nina Beier’s “Allegory of Charity.” This is a sculpture of a ceramic cup pouring coffee beans onto the floor. By looking at it, I can imagine myself drinking an old red wine, such as a Bordeaux, better yet a Margaux or St. Estephe, where I can smell the coffee and earth aromas in the wine, pairing with what I am seeing in front of me.
As you see, we can pair wine and art according to color, atmosphere, design or sensations. Of course, there is no right or wrong in this wine pairing, just suggestions, based on one’s feelings. Tasting wine can be as subjective as appreciating art, but wine and art pairing is certainly an interesting and captivating idea.
For more information about Art Basel click here https://www.artbasel.com/miami-beach