You can go to a restaurant and ask the server to offer wine pairings to accompany your fancy-pants menu choice. But imagine you're home and have just reached for the latest album from that hip new San Francisco band. You're all ready to crank up those sweet tunes, but what to drink to compliment the sonic snack?
For this dilemma, I've consulted California winemaker Aaron Jackson, of Aaron Wines
. Jackson, who received his masters in Oenology (the science of winemaking) from Adelaide University in South Australia, has been producing his own Petite Syrah since 2002. He's the ideal sommelier for this task because he knows his wine -- and he's a dedicated music fan. I gave Jackson the rundown of popular Bay Area acts, and in return learned the appropriate wine to sip while enjoying their music. For your listening pleasure, I present seven Bay Area band-wine pairings. Cheers!
1. Hunx & His Punx:
A fruity and tart group like Hunx & His Punx
would go nicely with a sweet French wine. Jackson suggested Georges Dubuoef Beaujolais-Villages because "with huge bursts of super friendly up front fruit and a soft finish, it's prized for its easy to drink nature and overall fun factor." Hunx totally knows a thing or two about being easy and fun -- the skimpy underpants-wearing, nasal-voiced singer makes simple, colorful ditties about cruising, kissing and crying over mean boys.
2. Ty Segall:
For the psychedelic rocker, Jackson recommended Big Basin "Rattlesnake Rock" syrah from the Santa Cruz Mountains, because the Santa Cruz Mountains are riddled with wild growing mushrooms -- some perhaps of the hallucinatory nature. He explains: "Big Basin makes big syrahs that are full of dark fruit and savory beef and spice notes that are perfect for rich foods like a mushroom-laden pie. Drinkable now, they will also age extremely well." Much like the wine chosen for him, Ty Segall
is also likely age well. The 23-year-old has released dozens of records and tapes in his relatively short career, and keeps upping the ante. Now he's earned a barrage of fickle music-critic acclaim
for the new, noisy psych-garage album Melted
3. Or, The Whale: Americana music should be paired with a classic American wine. Jackson says Or the Whale should be listened to with a glass of Rombauer Chardonnay from Carneros, because this wine is "big, rich and buttery, with ripe pear and pineapple notes." He adds, "the wine has the richness to pair up to hearty mac and cheese, but still has the acid to keep your palate fresh enough to kill the whole bottle." The sextet's country-tinged rock tunes, often swelling with multiple vocal layers, plucky banjo and plentiful percussion, are indeed full and robust.
4. Morning Benders:
For a subtle and tender brunch-time listen, pair the Morning Benders
with a bubbly Schramsberg Blanc de Noir from the North Coast. And because we know you love to keep it local, it's worth noting that Schramsberg sources much of their grapes from Marin County. Jackson says, "With classic acidity and complex notes of toasty pear, creme brulee, and yeast, [Schramsberg]is tremendously complex yet freshly acidic to cut through the sweetest of brunch treats." The baby-faced indie group plays the kind of intricate pop that, because of its sweet ease, often gets miscatagorized as incomplex. Nothing could be further from the truth. The band's 2010 album, Big Echo
, co-produced by Grizzly Bear bassist Chris Taylor, has been noted for its delicately layered vocals and abundance of instruments -- including piano, slide guitar and a string section.
5. The Fresh & Onlys:
True to its name, the Fresh & Onlys
deserve to be listened to with a glass of fresh wine -- Dogpoint Sauvignon Blanc, from Marlbourough, New Zealand. Jackson says, "Nothing screams freshness like a snappy Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Light, crisp, and incredibly refreshing, it's got the classic characters of lime, green bean and green pepper, with a clean finish. A classic summer's day drink." Recalling classic rock 'n' roll from the 1970s and early '80s, the Fresh & Onlys would go well with its chosen pairing. The garage rockers have a hint of darkness in their deep baritone vocals -- a refreshing blend with the jangly, upbeat tunes.
For L.A. transplant Shlohmo
, Jackson suggests Robert Biale "Party Time" Zinfandel from Napa Valley. He says: "This Zinfandel is big, vibrant and full of berry fruits, yet complex and laden with spice and toasty oak notes that make it an absolute pleasure to drink." Jackson adds, "since DJs are a recipe for a party, Biale's Party Time Zin is pretty much a perfect fit." The young 20-year-old DJ has a unique way with mixes, pulling tones and samples from unexpected places (Half Baked,
anyone?). His twitchy, complex songs and co-conspirator role with promoters and mixtapers Wedidit Collective
solidify his bouncy party readiness.
7. Emily Jane White:
An ethereal, folky goddess like Emily Jane White
should be paired with a clean and earthy wine. Jackson suggests Tablas Creek Rose from Paso Robles because it's "loaded with strawberry and plum notes, [and] with a subtle spice and earthy notes." And since their vineyards are all organic, "you're practicing good karma while drinking it too." Growing up in foggy Fort Bragg and attending college at UC Santa Cruz, White learned to craft her ghostly, acoustic tunes while frolicking through darkened beaches and isolated forests. The lush compositions on new album Victorian America
and her naturally melancholy voice will go well with the deep-rooted, earthy Tablas Creek Rose.