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Perfect Pairings: Programming Wine With Music

Perfect pairings: wine, food and music.

As a sommelier, my job is to pair wines with a guest's dinner, to find the perfect wine that speaks to that guest but also matches the flavors and textures of a dish from my chef. I fell into the world of wine while trying to build my first career: Before I ever picked up a decanter professionally, I spent my evenings delving into the works of Mahler, Stravinsky and Reich as a professional percussionist.

The culinary world felt light years away from a career as a classical musician. But just as I might have analyzed the harmony of a piece to plot out phrases and thematic development, I discovered that planning a menu and pairings required the same type of thinking. I get to conduct my guests through their experience, leading them thematically from one wine to the next, using taste and texture to create a seamless and logical progression, just as a music director might create a program for an evening's concert. So, if I may, let us start this evening's menu.

Aaron Sherman is the sommelier at NoMI Kitchen at the Park Hyatt Chicago. As a percussionist, he has played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

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Aaron Sherman