Friday, June 04, 2010

Wine and Records

Apparently there is a lot of overlap among geeky wine collectors and geeky record collectors. I know a few myself. Why is this? Who knows, but there is something similar in the act of standing in a store coveting an expensive bottle and standing in a store and coveting an expensive and rare album. And with both wine and records there are seemingly limitless esoteric details to obsess over.

This came up in conversation the other night and one of the people at the table laid out the following piece of wisdom:

The importer is the record label; the producer is the artist; the vintage is the record; and the wine is the song.
--Justin Chearno, of Uva.

When I said "Interesting that there is no mention of the grape," Justin smiled and said "The grape is the instrument."


Troy said...

Exactly what I think these guys are trying to go for... a wine shop that looks & feels like a record shop.

Christy said...

I do love the analogy, but I have to say (and I smile as I type this,) I think this obsession with esoterica is very much a guy thing. Not a terribly original observation, I know but it doesn't make it any less true!


Clarke B. said...

OK, here's a start:

Lynch = Virgin (pre-1992)
Dressner = Rough Trade
Rosenthal = Factory
Theise = Brain
Jenny & Francois = K
Savio = SST
Mosel Wine Merchant = Basic Channel

Clarke B. said...

I would offer that the record is perhaps the vineyard rather than the vintage, but the analogy is great, and seems endlessly fertile... The guy (yep, Christy, it certainly is probably bound to be a dude!) who forks over for a full set of each glass in the Riedel Sommelier Series is pretty much the same guy who buys $15,000 floor-standers and a $7,000 cartridge so that Neal Peart's splash cymbal work on Rush's 2112 is rendered in as painfully exquisite detail as possible. And the spotlit magnum of California cult wine in the cellar of a nouveau riche is a close cousin of the mint-condition copy of the infamous "butcher cover" on the original release of the Beatles' Yesterday and Today framed on the wall of a wealthy record obsessive.

I have to say, though, the folks I know that are into both records and wine actually don't tend to be these obsessive collector types... They are fundamentally aesthetes, people that love with the same part of their mind and heart the vivid presence and sensousness of records and the idea that the earth can be made taste-able through the medium of wine.

And on a different but related note, I'm actually naturally suspicious of those whose attitude toward a given interest is coated in layers of esoterica and random facts, as I think these are ways people can avoid--willingly or unwittingly--true engagement with the object at hand. Does knowing the EXACT cepage of a Chateauneuf-du-Pape mean that you're better equipped to enjoy it or apprehend it? Does knowing that Eno recorded Bowie's vocals on "Heroes" using three consecutively positioned volume-triggered microphones make it a better song for you? Sure, knowing these things can deepen and enrich our understanding of wine and music, but they should never be confused with actual appreciation.

ben said...

Justin is a brilliant guy and that makes total sense to me; plus Clarke's little cheat sheet there almost made sense to! I like wine and music, but prefer both live and music improvised.

Tricerapops said...

i'm with clarke - at some point, overly geeking out on something (whether records/wine) becomes rather trite.

Dr. Robert M. Oliva said...

I enjoy your blog. I will link it to my own ( and raised in Brooklyn myself. Although I now live on Long Island, I still work at Brooklyn College.


King Krak, I Drink the Wine said...

Some place in my garage I still have more than 100 Depeche Mode vinyl records...amongst 600-900 other records. But I long converted to cds (bet. my wife and self, I think we have about 2400). In most recent times, many of them are on my Olive music server. Coupled with my Benchmark DAC, gives me outstanding sound from them.

King Krak, I Drink the Wine said...

Clarke: What about Mute and ZTT?

Clarke B. said...

King Krak, first of all, could you give me the precise co-ordinates of said garage? When it comes to vinyl, I just can't get enough. (Sorry.)

Secondly, MUTE: Great question... It may well be SKURNIK. Very solid book, never quite as much cache or as solidly formed of an identity as some of its brethren, but has outpaced them all in terms of sales and has gotten progressively bigger and more "mainstream" over the years while still maintaining a core of quality. (NOTE: I used to work for them.)