Top five wines to pair with Barry WhiteBy Darren Smith
The lights are low, the heating is on (Rule #1 in the Alan Partridge book of seduction techniques, that one), and the first rumbling syllables of the great walrus of love are filling the air. “Come on, baby, don’t get hung up on anything tonight. Tonight, baby, I’m gonna be your everything…”
There is one thing missing from this intensely clichéd scene of seduction though: wine.
Ridiculous Valentines Day-related themes aside, there is a growing column of evidence of a special sensory inter-relationship between music and wine.
Professor Charles Spence of the Oxford University Crossmodal Research Laboratory and ‘philosopher of taste’ Professor Barry Smith have conducted plenty of demonstrations to prove this point. Put simply, pairing certain wines with certain types of music – a rich-full-bodied red with Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, for example – enhances the pleasure associated with both. And vice versa.
Which brings us back to the walrus. What might be the perfect, most deeply delicious and aphrodisiacal wine one could pair with the sweet, loin-trembling tones of ‘I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby‘?
In the pages that follow, we present 10 that might do the trick.
1. The Chocolate Block
‘The wine with secrets to keep’, as its slogan goes, this a rich and broody red blend from the historic Boekenhoutskloof winery in idyllic Franschhoek, South Africa.
Intense and complex with dark, brooding fruit and Swartland violets. A soft, smooth entry, a rich mid-palate, svelte cocoa powdery tannins and a long, lingering finish reminiscent of Swiss dark hazelnut chocolate. A tasting note that might have been written by Barry White himself.
2. Torbreck Descendant
A single-vineyard wine from Barossa legend Torbreck, and the region’s first co-fermented Shiraz/Viognier blend. Deep, rich and endlessly complex, yet silky smooth and seductive on the palate.
The Shiraz is crushed straight on top of the Viognier, baby, then the blend is co-fermented and matured for 18 months in barrels.
3. Pra Amarone della Valpolicella
A Venetian wine seems appropriate for the amorous theme – Casanova being Venetian. Luscious, heady (this style of appassimento wine can top 17% alcohol), yet smooth and sensual, with a sweet, rich flavour. Very adult too. Could Amarone be the vinous embodiment of the great walrus in the sky? We rather think it could.
4. Tenuta di Aglaea Talía
From old bush vines in the Comune di Castiglione di Sicilia e Randazzo on Etna comes this subtle yet powerful varietal Nerello Mascalese. We won’t dwell on the ejaculatory significance of Etna, rather on the finer mythological significance of the winery name. Aglaea is the youngest of the Three Graces or Charities, and daughters of Zeus. She was the goddess of beauty, splendour, glory, magnificence and adornment and, the myth goes, often acted as messenger to Aphrodite, the goddess of love – who was married to Hephaestus, the volcano god.
Demonstrating that Barry White wines don’t have to be deep, dark, brooding affairs, this wine gives beguiling dry strawberry, floral and herbal notes, with a firm body yet gentle tannins.
5. Château Margaux
Supremely elegant, soaring, sensuous aromatics, a long, silky hedonistic palate, if any wine could match Barry White for sheer get-naked-in-front-of-a-roaring-fire appeal, its Bordeaux first growth Château Margaux. A wine which, if you’re lucky enough to experience it, will have you asking Which Way is Up?