22 Oct2010

Trainspotters. A disparaging term if ever there was one. Lump it in with nerds, anoraks and bores and you could be talking about every one of us that opine on wine. Because we all have this strange obsessive zeal about the subject, it makes us appear to the outer sanctum as some strange sect of grape tragics.

The reason I write this, is because I was thinking the other day about the last time in my life I was so particularly drawn to a subject that consumed so much of my waking day.

Well over a decade ago, I was lured into the hypnotic pull of house music, collecting vinyl and DJ’ing. Now if there was ever a bunch of nerds, then it’s  the house music aficionado who funnily enough are labelled trainspotters for their single minded plight of finding the obscurest or most fashionable new tunes.

There’s a huge amount of crossover in these two pastimes; both music and wine seem to attract the enthusiast who as they get more and more obsessed they become more anal about the need to search out the latest and best.

I used to go to my local record shop every week, and pick up a stack of vinyl, go to the listening post and cue up the latest American and European imports. It’s no different to a tasting really, you employ slightly different senses, records demand your aural powers of deduction while wine is olfactory.

Once you have settled on a style that pleases your taste, it’s hard to be swayed. House music had so many mutations and sub –genres that kept spawning, but I found that like wine you returned to the styles you were comfortable with.

The lure of finding a wealth of new sounds  for the collection is no different to the pursuit of getting the best deal in a wine shop. I could often find myself trawling six record shops on one day in order to find the one tune I knew was going to enhance my collection and often that would be about finding it at the right price too.

No different then to searching the web for the best wine deals or at least visiting several bottle shops before finding that rare gem that was affordable.

Music or more specifically House music used to keep me awake thinking of the possible seamless mix, the ultimate expression of the form and Wine is like that to some extent with food. You are looking for a harmonious match so that two disparate forces collide.  In DJ’ing, like wine matching, the jangly mix can easily mirror the inappropriate food match.

The tools of the trade are perhaps different too, to enhance the music on big nights out, it was pills and vodka, now it’s red wine and cheese. Walking into a loud nightclub with a booming sound system used to touch my soul because when you’d had too many party cookies you really did believe that the combination of 130BPM and the collective grins of sweaty strangers was a life-affirming feeling.

I’m not comparing class A drugs with cool climate Shiraz but my point is that it’s funny that as you get older and (hopefully more sophisticated) your drug of choice just becomes a bit more refined. Truly great wines have the ability to transcend the ordinary in the same way music can move the soul and the grin that appears on your face when you taste it is just as heartfelt but probably not so prone to aching and certainly there’s no need for so much water.

So with House music in mind here are a selection of wines most suited to these sub genres:

Pinot Grigio – Happy House: shiny and forgettable

Mataro – Dirty deep US House

Sauvignon Blanc – Acid House: seems nice at the time but in retrospect no-one knows why they ever liked it

Big Barossa Shiraz – Trance (because you can feel a hypnotic beat on the palate going wap wap wap)

Weighwatchers Balance – Gabba – no one has got a fucking clue what it’s about

Riesling – Disco – lapels, flares, unfashionable over the top at times, secretly loved by a very select few.

French HouseRhône Blends or Champagne

Hi-NRG –  Moscato

Progressive House – Pinot – full of peaks and troughs but once you get into the groove you will be hooked

Tribal –  Zinfandel

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4 Responses to “Pills and thrills to wine and cheese : a tale of obsessions”

  • Louis 28/10/2010

    Not a bad analogy, as a wine and music lover there some good parallels to be drawn between the two genres – particularly when it comes to bringing out the nerds.

    One element which you haven’t quite gone into detail here is the maturation of taste – to continue your analogy – I used to be a strictly Drum and Bass kind of person, occasionally I listened to other genres, but Dnb was my staple.

    These days i’m much more open to listening to music of all types so long as it is good, in addition I appreciate and value the classics (80′s hip hop and northern soul) much more than before.

    The parallel in wine is obvious so I won’t bore you by writing it out here.

  • Wining Pom 28/10/2010

    Thanks Louis, you are probably right, I did not explore the maturation of taste as far as possible but it was more a study on how the two pursuits bring out the obsessive!

  • Stu 16/01/2011

    Nice analogy. There is plenty of cross-over indeed, and I know of a few winos who still turn the table now and again.

    If only a lovely imported French triple cream Brie was as cheap as a Disco Biscuit I’d be laughing all the way to my cardiologist.

  • Wining Pom 16/01/2011

    Would you like Brie with your disco biscuit Sir?

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