Have you ever had a sip of wine and been transported to a memory of a painting (or vice versa)? Did a sip of a To Kalon Cabernet remind you of a Rembrandt? How about a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris reminding you of a Gauguin Tahitian beach scene? Perhaps it was a famous Turner or Monet landscape that reminded you of a favorite Rhône red blend or Rosé?
Simone F.M. Spinner, author of “Denver Food: A Culinary Evolution,” and Certified Wine Sommelier, has tackled this very topic with aplomb! On the show, Simone graciously walked the hosts through three wine and art pairings to learn how these art forms align in the senses.
First, a bit of background: Simone was viewing a painting called Rosaline by Michael Dowling and a bottle of Perrier Jouët Belle Époque Fleur de Champagne rosé vintage 2002 came to mind immediately. This Champagne represents the height of old world opulence of a sophisticated, bygone era.
She explained that when she saw Rosaline for the first time, she actually recalled the luscious taste and texture of the Perrier Jouët rose champagne in a strange synesthetic experience. Every quality about that painting matched the tasting note of the wine: pale, shimmering, peau de soie pink with a delicate mousse transcending the rich (foundation). Each is elegant and ethereal with a mysterious air that is at once beautiful and graceful. The woman in Dowling’s painting gazes out of her world inviting the viewer to take her in just a little bit.
How to match the components of the wine to the art? This is where Simone turned to the criteria used to evaluate wine’s aesthetics (aroma, appearance and flavors) to match with those of a painting. In similar analysis, you can match a painting’s colors, light, texture, and visual components to those of a wine’s. And she tested this via a blind questionnaire at a gallery and found the respondents agreed.
Now it was the hosts’ turn to try this out with the three wines. First up was the Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé paired with the painting, Rosaline. On the nose, we got aromas of apple, almond, and jasmine flowers. Visually, the light pink Champagne evokes just-ripe and tangy raspberries, which you also pick up with a sip, along with strawberries, white peaches, and green asian pear. Simone’s trained palate also picked up Amaretti and Madeline cookies, candied ginger, candied rose petals, and a hint of lime zest. Try it yourself! And view all the paintings we discussed here.
Next up was the St. Supery Napa Valley Estate Moscato. While many think “sweet” when it comes to Moscato, this wine is elegant, with a sweetness that isn’t at all sugary. The sweetness comes from a panoply of tropical fruits and flowers: guava, white peach, apricot, apple blossom, and white freesia. Simone also identified hints of marmalade, honeysuckle, mandarin, Meyer lemon, vanilla bean and orange blossom water. For the hosts, all those aromas and flavors brought yellows and oranges to mind. It was no surprise to hear Simone had paired this wine with three, predominantly yellow paintings: Robert Lewis Reid’s The Yellow Flowers, 1908, American; Diane Leonard’s Yellow Umbrella Summer Rain (also called Solitude), contemporary, American; and Alphonse Mucha’s Lily, 1898, Lithograph, Czeck.
Last, we moved to the Mathis Sonoma Valley Grenache. Here Simone and the hosts picked up a big nose with spicy and woodsy aromas that included cinnamon, turmeric, white pepper, cedar, red plum, mulberry, ripe strawberry, blueberry, strawberry-rhubarb sauce or preserves, cherry pipe tobacco, baking chocolate, and eucalyptus. On the palate, ripe, red fruits and restrained tannins (that are a bit unstructured) accompanied moderate acidity. With this impression, Simone was off to match the Grenache with three paintings: Danielle Hatherley’s Autumn in the Adirondacks; her Uluru Ascension (which we called Sunset or Sunrise before we learned the real title); and (what we later discovered was) Lanie Loreth’s (and not Pablo Picasso’s) Red Poppies in a Vase, 1943.
From Simone’s point of view, the line, composition, brush stroke, and emotional display, mirror the ripe, red fruit, woodsey spice, and restrained tannins of the wine. She also found it a bit unstructured, with moderate acidity. And it was her sense of a lack of strong backbone that indicates an impressionistic painting style. Simone’s ultimate vote was for Danielle Hatherley’s Uluru Ascension to pair with the Mathis Grenache.
Listen in to learn more. It was a fascinating experience for the hosts. And visit Simone’s website:
To learn more about the wines tasted or purchase them, go to: