Music & Wine: A Brilliant Pairing

“Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know.”
John Keats

….and it doesn’t even have to be French wine (though my father would tell you differently)! But really, Keats is onto something here with the wine, nice weather and outdoor music.

I just got tickets to a music festival in town. It’s ridiculously overpriced and the two acts I want to see are playing at the same time. That said, there’s just something so great about seeing a band you like play live. It is such a thrill that seems to fill you with happiness. Just like drinking your favourite wine.

But what if you could do both at the same time?

I recently learned about a music festival called the Interstellar Rodeo. It attracts some pretty big names from the Canadian music scene, like Kathleen Edwards, Joel Plaskett, Hawksley Workman, Sarah McLachlan and Blue Rodeo. There are also some non-Canadian acts, such as St. Vincent, Vance Joy and Elle King.The concept is brilliant, and right up my alley: each musical act is paired with a different wine! What’s more, there are servers who actually bring the wine to your seat while you watch the show. How amazing is that?? Music festivals always provide excellent exposure to new or lesser-known artists. But this one also exposes audiences to new wines, encouraging them to branch out and try new wines.

What I like best is the description of each artist and the reason for the selected wine pairing. Sometimes it’s a question of the name of the wine or the image on the bottle, which is a perfect match (such as in the case of Vance Joy’s pairing of The Musician, an Australian shiraz-cab to match the Australian musicmaker). Other times the wine pairing was chosen because a certain quality in the wine was perfectly in line with the artist. For example, Canadian songstress Sarah McLachlan is paired with the Charles Smith 2012 Eve Chardonnay. The wine pairer explains: “The wine delivers fresh fruit without excessive oak; much like McLachlan, it’s an honest, straightforward, heartfelt and playful take on a popular genre.”

Charles Smith Eve Chardonnay (paired with Sarah McLachlan)

Charles Smith
Eve Chardonnay
(paired with Sarah McLachlan)

Majella 2012 ‘The Musician’ Cab/Shiraz (paired with Vance Joy)

Majella 2012 ‘The Musician’ Cab/Shiraz
(paired with Vance Joy)

The Interstellar Rodeo takes place in July in Edmonton, AB and in August in Winnipeg, MB. Sounds like a great excuse to head to the Prairies!

When I looked into this concept a bit further I discovered that it is nothing new, and that these sort of events are being organized all over the world. Many wine regions, like Niagara, the Okanagan, and even random ones like Pennsylvania, often put on festivals that involve musical acts to draw in tourism and promote the region’s wines.  Sometimes an individual winery will put on a concert, piggy-backing on the artist’s following as an opportunity to showcase their wines. As an example, Jackson-Triggs in Niagara has an amphitheatre where it holds a summer concert series featuring some pretty great Canadian artists. In my research, I also discovered some larger events where the focus is the music, with wine and local cuisine as the side act. I notice that in almost all cases there is a growing presence of food trucks. Who doesn’t love food trucks?!?

Great shot of a concert at Mission Hill winery near Kelowna (Okanagan, BC). Source: The Calgary Herald

Great shot of a concert at Mission Hill winery near Kelowna (Okanagan, BC). Source: The Calgary Herald

Here is a list of just a few music and wine festivals in North America (in order of proximity to me!):

  • Classical in the Clos, By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery, Prince Edward County, Ontario
    • This small festival took place in August and featured small groups of classical musicians, with food by chef Jamie Kennedy. I’m sorry I missed it!
  • Niagara Wine Festival, Niagara, Ontario, September 12-27.
    • The focus is clearly on the wine, but there are musical acts each night of the weekend.
  • The Music City Food and Wine Festival, Nashville, Tennessee, September 19/20
    • Chefs present their signature dishes, with live music curated by Kings of Leon!
  • Gruene Music and Wine Festival, New Braunfels, Texas, October 8-11
    • “A celebration of Texas, German and New World wines, specialty beer, food and handcrafted items.”
  • Las Vegas Wine and Music FestivalLas Vegas, Nevada, took place last June
    • “A unique festival that pairs wines with the music and promotes a mutual social experience,” this festival focuses mainly on classical music.

This list is by no means exhaustive and would be endless if it included events from all over the world. It makes me wish we had something like this in Ottawa (affectionately dubbed “the city that fun forgot”). But hey, if Edmonton and Winnipeg can do it, I have faith that our nation’s capital can get on the bandwagon too.

Have you ever been to a music and wine festival? Was it as great as I think it would be? Leave me a comment and tell me all about it!

Update: On a similar note, does music make wine taste better? If it does, then concerts with wine become an even better idea! Here’s a fun and interesting article from Vivino that explores different studies on the matter: 

4 thoughts on “Music & Wine: A Brilliant Pairing

  1. Pingback: Wining with Shakespeare | Wining with Mel

  2. Pingback: Savour Australia | Wining with Mel

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