One of the many benefits of Twitter (aside from limiting otherwise verbose people to 140 characters) is meeting people who have some very similar tastes and a whole host of disparate ones. My Twitter associations are grouped into three large categories: football people, food and wine people, and music people. Joe cuts across all three, and has a mean blog to boot! Those of you who have happened upon The Thirsty Cellist know that it is not nearly as active as this blog and also in need of an infusion of knowledge and zest. So I called upon Joe to do his thing. It was so good that I’ve decided to post it at both blogs.

A Grand Unified Theory to Classical Music and Wine Appreciation (or How I Was Not Daunted By Either) by Joseph Buck

Emily, thanks for the spare electrons. Ed: My pleasure!

A few weeks ago, Ms. Wright asked me to write something for her wine blog.

Yet it is the fact that it is attached to her *cello* blog that got me thinking how my love for classical music also had some similarities in how I grew to love the world of wine.

So I had a bit of a thought and traced the path I had for loving both. Bear with me and let’s follow that together. To start…

1. I used entry drugs.

In music, if there was an orchestral or classical aspect in rock or jazz I tried to find out the source. Brian Eno was my entry drug to Steve Reich. David Sylvian was my entry drug to Toru Takemitsu. The Beatles were my entry drug to John Tavener.

In the same way, my love for a cheap Rosenblum Zin Cuvee got me deep into California’s grape, and got me trying the Seghesios, the Tofanellis, the Orin Swifts.

That’s because I guess I…

2. Started with what was closest, and most recent

For wine, that led me out to Rancho Cucamonga of all places, tasting wine from the middle of a now developed Inland Empire. It made me realize that good people, make good wine, and are willing to share it with you and yarn about the whole thing.

For classical it made me look at John Adams, who was as West Coast and as world wide as I hoped to be at the time.

But from there I…

3. Traced Backwards

I looked back at the influences of New and American composers. This led me to the realization that all those old dead Euro white guys were maybe not so bad. My continued apologies to Ludwig, Frédéric, Hector, Claude, and Béla, um, amongst, many many others.

To be honest, the same thing applied in the wine world, I was busy giving “big ups” to the new world, but once I peeled back history, I found out that things were iconic back in Europe for a reason. I embraced weird French stuff, and old houses alike, and my aforementioned love for Zinfandel got me researching to learn that my beloved iconic grape was (gulp) from Italy as Primitivo and even before that came from Croatia as Crljenak Kaštelanski.

Yet by tracing back it allowed me to…

4. Find out what goes into what I liked.

By trying and tracing back in wine I realized how much I liked fruit forward stuff from California, Australia, and New Zealand, and I liked the flavor profiles and bang for the buck from stuff from Spain and Portugal. I liked the vegetal funk of Cab Franc.

I found out particularly in blended wines which varietals made for what qualities in the finished products. What rounded out, and complemented another grape.

Also I guess in the same way I learned what components of composition, and instrumentation went into the kinds of music I liked.

As I tried things, and did some research I found…

5. I didn’t have to know everything.

I have noticed that in both the wine and music worlds that by and large people not only don’t mind, but love talking about their work.

In my experience, winemakers, growers, musicians, composers, each to a man, to a woman, have been unbelievably informative and willing to share their knowledge and expertise.

I think many people are daunted to talk to such folks, and feel that they know little to hold a conversation.

In my experience, what they respond negatively to is not the lack of knowledge, but acting like you do. I have gotten the best responses from folk by a good, informed, yet humble question.

By learning from such folk, and by trying out as much as you can you will be able to find things to treasure.

The flip side to that was realizing…

6. I don’t have to like it

I may like new music, but I can leave the Cage and Lutosławski alone. I love a lot from California, but I think many Napa Cabs are overrated.

The more I learned and tried, the more I trusted my ears and my palate for what I liked.

I hope this stuff has been food for thought and that you will be empowered and fall in love with things in both of these amazing worlds.

Joseph Buck represents Southern California. He writes for things like throughhisstomach.com, fights gangs for local charities and stuff, and hates referring to himself in the third person.

Image via kiwicollection.