Jazz. Wine. Are the two really related? That seems to be the question all abuzz at the moment in the Spanish wine-tourism community. Jazz and wine evenings are popping up all over the country but is this just a propaganda stunt or does the combination of jazz music and fine wine spark a hidden magic previously untapped?
To further investigate this intriguing possibility I recently attended the IX annual Festival de Musica a les vinyes organized by Patronat de Turisme de Subirats. Held at Torre-Ramona, upon first arrival I was welcomed by a cool summer breeze and an expertly crafted stage, the purple and blue lighting glittering along the sleek black surface of the Yamaha grand piano. The atmosphere held a hint of excitement and an air of ingenuity. I could feel the anticipation mounting as the hour drew to a close and Enrico Pieranunzi took to the stage. Silence fell over the audience as Pieranunzi’s fingers alighted on the keys. And off he went, opening the concert with a cheerful composition that captured everyone’s attention. His first two numbers were quite vivacious and lively, but he quickly changed the mood to a more somber, moving tone. Swaying, tapping, bending, flying, you could feel the sensations that Pieranunzi’s music created radiating from the black and white keys. The improv would sweep you up and drop you down, twirl you about and then relax you into a slow waltz. It was beautiful to witness. And as if the music wasn’t enough to evoke a response from the audience, we all received an added visual aspect from the lighting which changed with each number, growing lighter with more energetic pieces and darker with the down swings. It was a truly unforgettable experience.
Following the concert, local Cavas were served out in the cobblestoned courtyard. With fresh peach slices added to each glass, a regional tradition started years ago, it was a unique way to experience cava. For me personally, pairing the cava with a jazz performance from Pieranunzi seemed like a match made in heaven. The cava mirrored the performance beautifully, the bubbles reminding you of the highlights with the undertones and complexities from the wine reminiscent of the more mysterious pieces played. It also provided an excellent opportunity to speak with Pieranunzi and reflect upon his inspiration and improvisation. All in all the evening was an exceptionally pleasing experience, one that I hope to have the opportunity to repeat again and again.
The question still remaining: are Jazz and Wine meant to be together? Based on my initial jazz-wine evening I would have to reply with a resounding yes. Having listened to jazz in my home over a bottle of red on many occasions, I must admit I was a bit biased before attending the performance, but now I am entirely convinced. I soon foresee the art of selecting wines for different jazz compositions, composers and musicians blossoming into well-respected and highly valued talent in the world of wine-tourism. For future jazz evenings, however, I would not follow the performance with the wine, but rather I would pair the two so that the audience could enjoy the wine and the performance simultaneously. Then the sparks would really fly.
Emily Marie Harris, wine & travel blogging for Wine Pleasures