Last August 2016, we held an event entitled “Crushed Grapes and Open Minds”. My friend RuBen with Act2Art by RuBen is an accomplished artist and created some works specifically for this event. The idea connected scent memory and art, both in the creation of the pieces and peoples reactions to them.
We chose 5 wines, a Champagne (A.J. de Margerie a Bouzy Grand Cru), a Sauvignon Blanc (Starborough Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand) a Syrah (Carhartt 2013 Estate Syrah Santa Barbara), 2 Zinfandels (Tobin James 2010 Fat Boy & French Camp Zin) and a Dessert wine (Chateau Megyer Tokaji Aszu 2010)
RuBen Permel of Act2Art is an accomplished artist. He’s actually quite the renaissance man, he is an actor and dancer, a puppeteer, a costumer, a painter, a writer, a film maker….and lucky for me, my friend.
Last year we worked together on a project called “Crushed Grapes and Open Minds”. I had this idea of finding wine that would pair with some of RuBen’s beautiful art. RuBen, ever the overachiever, decided he would paint a piece for each wine we chose. We chose 5 wines and he painted a piece to pair with each.
We spent an afternoon with RuBen while he painted, actually priming a canvas for what became the signature piece for the event.
A few days before the “Crushed Grapes and Open Minds” event. The Artist RuBen Permel came by to install the art works. He brought the 5 paintings inspired by the wine, as well as a selection of other pieces. We spent the morning finding just the right spot for each work.
How It Works!
There was a station for each wine, with a pairing, aroma jars, the wine and of course the associated work of art. Cards to explain the pairings were located at each station.
Individuals bring their personal experiences and memories as they interpret a work of art. Scent memories are similar, an aroma can trigger a very personal memory. Mixing the two and stirring in a little wine and good food can make for a powerful experience.
We asked guests to smell the aroma jars, taste the wine, and look at the art, then jot down a word, a phrase or a memory that came to them.
Crushed Grapes & Open Minds, an interactive Experience
The Pairing- Art, Wine and Aroma
A.J. de Margerie a Bouzy Grand Cru
We chose this Champagne for the bread on the nose. When we were sampling Champagnes, Cremants and Sparkling wines, we dipped our nose in this glass and got hamburger buns. Yep, hamburger buns. That yeasty smell of bread came across in a very approachable way that we thought would make this wine less intimidating for those new to finding aromas in wine, so it made a great start. This Champagne is mostly Pinot Noir so you also get berries on the nose and so there were scent jars of hamburger buns and berries for people to smell. For a food pairing we matched it with Salty potato chips. The salt and fat are a perfect pairing, the salt making you crave another sip of the champagne and the champagne’s bubbles and acid clean the fat off of your palate after each bite, making every bit as delicious as the first.
“A perfect first date”
“Crisp pears – a cool spring afternoon”
“Happy – like a picnic at an apple orchard”
“Fields of dandelions – fresh grass”
“A beautiful sun shower in late April or Early May”
Starborough Sauvignon Blanc- from Marlborough, New Zealand
We had a bunch of Sav Blancs to choose from, but the nose on this one was just captivating! This wine, is not fancy, you can find it in your local grocery store. We had jars of lime, grapefruit, cut grass, stone fruit, and lemongrass and everyone found something different in the wine. We paired this with Guacamole and chips. The avocado is fatty which is nice with the acid in the wine and goes well with the lime and fresh greenness of the wine.
“Blowing out candles on your birthday cake”
“Very content and peaceful – smells like our smoothie day”
“Blood splatter on the grass from when I split my lip”
(I love this childhood memory)
Carhartt 2013 Estate Syrah Santa Barbara
We love the wines from this Winery and Syrah from Santa Barbara is almost always wonderful. These are the same “Carhartts” that make the work clothes. They owned a cattle farm in Santa Barbara that Mike Carhartt turned into a vineyard. His wife Brooke and their son Chase now make the wines and they have my favorite tasting room on the planet in Los Olivos.
This wine has quite a bit going on with aromas of Black berries, dirt, allspice, tobacco, vanilla bean and beef jerky and we had scent jars with all of these. As to a pairing? Well there is a pig on the label, so bacon was the perfect pairing.
“The calm after a winter storm – perfect tranquility”
“Dark – cosmos – blanketing”
“Thirsty – the kind of thirst when flying”
“A very tempestuous sunset”
Tobin James 2010 Fat Boy and French Camp Zinfandel
We were members of Tobin James for a while and pulled these two older Zinfandels from the cellar to try. Tobin James is in Paso Robles California and their wines tend to be pretty big. The aromas on these were earth, pepper, fruit jam, leather and chocolate. We paired them with chocolate fountain mini cup cakes from Retro Bakery.
“Making a picnic lunch for the family”
“tobacco warmth – a little earthy – comfortable”
“Costy – like a warm blanket wrapped around me during the winter”
Chateau Megyer Tokaji Aszu 2010
Tokaj is an area in Hungary and this wine is made from a grape called “furmint”. This is a wine made through “noble rot” or “botrytis cinerea” a fungus that shrivels the grapes like raisins. The raisins are then made into a paste which is added to a dry base wine. This is a sweet wine with citrus, apricot and honey on the nose. We paired it with Brie and Comte cheese.
“Oceanside Cliffs on a summer evening”
“My first visit to Montreal – wonder and excitement – Christmas eve”
“Tending to my fathers garden”
In addition to the wine stations, there was more to eat with a table filled with delicious things with notes to suggest pairings to try with the wine as well as more of RuBen’s beautiful art around the space.
This was an evening of exploration, discovery and animated conversations.