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Pairing Wine with Nut(crackers)

Plus, new wine charities help out the needy and a Brooklyn wine crime

Posted: November 3, 2011

• Unfiltered is no stranger to being offered nuts or cheese at wine tastings, but it turns out that a suite or two from Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker might pair better. A study published by the British Journal of Psychology reveals that music affects how a wine is perceived. Test subjects were asked to taste two wines—Viña Montes Alpha M 2005 and a Chilean Chardonnay—while listening to Tchaikovsky's "Waltz of the Flowers," Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana," Nouvelle Vague's "Just Can't Get Enough," Michael Brook's "Slow Breakdown," or no music at all. The subjects listening to the music resoundingly identified their wine with characteristics linked to the music they heard, "subtle and refined" for the waltz, "powerful and heavy" for "Carmina Burana," "zingy and refreshing" for "Just Can't Get Enough," and "mellow and soft" for "Slow Breakdown." We asked New York City Ballet principal dancer Janie Taylor, a Malbec fan and regular Dew Drop Princess in the company's annual Nutcracker performances, if Tchaikovsky makes her wine taste better. "I don't know if [Malbec] tastes better after listening to 'Waltz of the Flowers,'" she told us. "But I do know that after hearing it for the 100th time each year, I definitely want a glass of it." (Full disclosure: Ms. Taylor is the sister of Wine Spectator associate editor and Unfiltered editor Robert Taylor. And he highly recommends you attend a "subtle and refined" performance of this season's Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, which begins later this month.)

• Of course, Unfiltered's favorite pairing is wine and charity, and several recent enophilanthropies came across our desk this week. Napa's Hestan Vineyards announced a reprisal of its 2010 Gulf Restoration Program. For every bottle of Hestan, Meyer and Stephanie brand wines sold this month, $2 will be donated to the Fund for Gulf Coast Restoration, which was a key organization involved in cleaning up the Deep Water Horizon oil rig disaster last year and continues to lead long-term restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. Elsewhere, the Gallo Family Vineyards' Every Cork Counts program is in full swing again. From now until Dec. 31, a $5 donation will be made to Meals on Wheels Association of America for every Gallo cork mailed in, with the goal of eradicating senior citizen hunger by the year 2020. Gallo will be donating a minimum of $10,000 and a maximum of $50,000 this year. Finally, at last week's Robert F. Kennedy Foundation of Europe dinner at the Salone del Cinquecento at the Palazzo Vecchio of Florence, Tuscany's Poggio al Tesoro provided the wine—Sondraia 2008 and Dedicato a Walter 2008—for the charity event, which supports the RFK Foundation's "Speak Truth to Power: Courage Without Borders" program, encouraging more than a quarter-million students to create change in the classroom and the community.

• And now on to Unfiltered's least-favorite pairing: Wine and crime. Riding around in a limo, drinking choice wine, packing a gun and carrying on with pretty ladies may make you think you're a kingpin, but if you're a limo driver to pay the bills, the wine is stolen, the gun is possessed illegally and you drugged the girl, you're just a scumbag in a suit. So decided a federal judge in Donald Trizzino's latest conviction, wine fraud, which the 50-year-old chauffeur can add to charges of being a fraud gangster and fraud Lothario. The Brooklyn man was convicted of stealing $170,000 worth of sommelier staples such as Veuve Clicquot and Dom Pérignon from wine auction website WineCommune.com. Trizzino was convicted of swindling 23 people, creating multiple accounts on the site, luring buyers and sellers into trust by conducting legitimate transactions and finally either refusing to pay for his wine or shipping cheap placeholder bottles after collecting money for the top-shelf stuff. After previous charges of gun possession and sexual misconduct, Trizzino will now be parked in the slammer.

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