Choosing Wine For Oscar Peterson

What does one drink to celebrate scoring two tickets to see the great Oscar Peterson live?

Happily, that’s my only real dilemma today. But, it does make one think about the nature of celebration and its natural connection to wine.

I don’t know about many of you but I’ve often given serious consideration to exactly which wine to open for a particular celebration. I have many a friend who give somewhat deep thought to this issue. And we aren’t thinking about what wine will go with that pork loin we’ll be serving at Aunt Martha’s birthday dinner. We are actually thinking, "what is the proper wine for this particular celebratory moment". It’s a different question altogether.

Some choices are obvious. Wark Communications gets a new winery client and we immediately run out and get that winery’s latest. Milestones of birth and marriage strike me as needing the exuberance of Champagne or Sparkling Wine. And, the first really warm day of the summer clearly calls for a celebratory opening of chilled, dry Rose.

These are the easy calls. There’s no real creativity involved in choosing the wine for those occasions simply because it’s all so obvious. Other celebrations are more difficult

What do you buy off the list to celebrate your first night in Paris?
What’s just the right wine to open in celebration of winning only your second Poker Tournament
What do you open to celebrate the graduation of your first child from High School?

And, again, I ask, what do you open to celebrate scoring two tickets to see one of the greatest jazz pianists ever to lay their hands on the keys?

For me, it works like this:

1. I’m excited so you have to honor that excitement with something not normally opened

2. Oscar’s music comes to mind next: It’s dense and complex…so, let’s go with that

3. It’s a night concert, that reminds me of red wine.

4. Jazz is fully American in every way so it must be an American wine.

5. I’ll be there with my wife both tonight and then, so it has to be a wine she’ll like

So what do we have? I need a slightly tannic (for the wife) red American wine (for the jazz), that will be dense and complex (for Oscar) that I normally wouldn’t open on any old night (because I’m excited).

So far so good. I"ll be in Oakland on the east side of the Bay so I’ll narrow it down to something from that neck of the woods. So let’s go to the cellar and see what fits.

Ah Ha!!  The 2002 Murrieta’s Well Meritage. Perfect in every respect. My notes from the first time I tasted it describe a medium bodied wine laden with cassis aromas and flavors, but infused with those herbal notes I love so much in Cab. And it’s got some girth and depth. It’s made from grapes grown at the winery’s Livermore Valley estate vineyard in the East Bay. It’s very red, has tannins but isn’t astringent by any description and I’ve been saving it for the right occasion.

The mind of a wine geek in action.

Oscar Peterson is playing Yoshi’s in Oakland, California September 5 – 10. Tickets are still available, but only because they went on sale just today. If you want to experience one of the true greats in an amazing venue get your tickets now.

3 Responses

  1. julian - August 3, 2006

    Hello Mr Wark,
    Thank you for your blog – I like your style. I was writing about which wine for which plants a few days ago on the Bubble Brothers blog, and working my way round to which wine for which music. As usual you beat me to it. How about this: which wine goes with not getting your new passport back in time to play at a jazz festival in Norway next week? Today’s the last day.

  2. wineboffin - August 3, 2006

    Interesting that you should mention Mr. Peterson who was recently in the news for unfortunately something not wine or jazz related:
    It was truly sad to read this.

  3. Damien - November 5, 2006

    Hi Tom,
    Interesting connection here – I’ve long thought that “You look good to me” off of We Get Requests is a perfect description of great wine. I saw the NY end of Oscar’s last tour and had the good fortune to chat with him afterwards. A few pictures as well as my own thoughts on Oscar and wine are posted on our site, here:
    FYI, Candid is a wine distribution and event company in Illinois.

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