Apparently, the philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was onto something when he wrote, “Music and Wine are one.”
The Aesthetics of Music and Wine, a course crafted by UNLV professors from the colleges of Fine Arts and Hospitality, will allow students to closely explore the relationship between these liquid and aural spirits.
What it is
This interdisciplinary course delves into the bond wine and music have shared for centuries. Students will learn the art of “pairings” exploring questions like: why a good Pinot Noir might become more vibrant while listening to Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”; why an oaked Chardonnay dances on the palette to Ella Fitzgerald’s “St. Louis Blues”; and how a big California Cabernet Sauvignon is boldly complemented by Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower.”
Why it is being taught
Restaurants and bars are always looking for ways to stay on the cutting edge of the industry — to better understand, and create elevated experiences for, their clientele. As a global hub of dining and entertainment, Las Vegas is the ideal place to explore the relationships between music and wine. Add in the thousands of annual events hosted here, and there are endless opportunities to apply this very specialized expertise. Using innovative tools and technology, the UNLV instructor team will help students learn how to marry music and wine to enhance the senses and create a more satisfying overall experience.
Who’s taking it
This course is primarily taken to complete upper division elective credits. It is intended to provide students from a variety of disciplines — such as hospitality, music, and psychology — with information that might be immediately useful in their careers.
Who’s teaching it
- Murray Mackenzie is an assistant professor in the Harrah College of Hospitality who holds his Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and Bordeaux wine instructor qualification. Mackenzie’s research is focused on food & beverage management, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and wine education and marketing. He teaches hospitality event management and food & beverage operational management courses.
- Timothy Jones is an associate professor in the School of Music. He is the coordinator of both percussion studies and the division of rock music studies. Related bonus: A native of South Australia, Jones grew up in the famous wine regions of the Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale.
How it works
Each week, students evaluate how specific wine and music selections work together to establish a desired mood and ambience. The course will make use of live musicians for in-classroom demonstrations. The first class of the semester will begin with a welcome event that is deconstructed and analyzed by students throughout the semester. As a final project, students will then rebuild the event as a culminating experience.
The Reading List
- King J. (2014) Krug Champagne redefines tasting notes with orchestra event. Luxury Daily.
- Oberfeld, Daniel & Hecht, Heiko & Allendorf, Ulrich & Wickelmaier, Florian. (2009). Ambient lighting modifies the flavor of wine. Journal of Sensory Studies – J SENS STUD. 24.
- Puckettem M., and Hammack, J. (2015). Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine. Avery Publishing Group.
- Spence, Charles & Velasco, Carlos & Knoeferle, Klemens. (2014). A large sample study on the influence of the multisensory environment on the wine drinking experience. Flavour. 3.
- Wang, Qian & Spence, Charles. (2015). Assessing the Effect of Musical Congruency on Wine Tasting in a Live Performance Setting. i-Perception. 6.
What students might be surprised to learn
Certain types of music can elevate or detract from the aromas and taste of wine. The mood, temperature, visual aspects, and energy of a space also will drastically affect the overall experience.
What excites instructors the most about this class
Collaborative, immersive teaching where learning takes place as Mackenzie and Jones discuss the outcomes of various parings. They also are excited for future research opportunities.
What even laypeople should know from this course
Students will learn how to better appreciate wine and music. They also will find suitable pairings for all types of events, ranging from a small gathering of friends to a large corporate event.
Where students go next
Students will be prepared to participate in consultation work, conduct research, or advance their studies in wine, music, or both.