You know the old adage that says if you’re the smartest guy in the room then you’re in the wrong room? Well, I certainly found myself in the right place last week when I sat in on a casual wine and music pairing at the University of London. Honestly, I’m hardly ever the brightest light shining at any wine tasting. And that’s what I love about attending them: the opportunity to know at least a little more than I did before. Well that and, of course, the wine.
Led by professors Barry Smith and Charles Spence, the pairing presented a small group of food and drink writers with a variety of wines to be accompanied by different songs and tones. Smith and Spence are kind of a big deal. They both lead amazing careers exploring how humans perceive the world through the senses. At the end of this post is a blurb each about them which I swiped from the London Gastronomy Seminars website (with lots of cool events listed). Keep reading to find out how you can glean the same cool info from these eminent thinkers.
Slurping wine to music with Smith and Spence at the helm was a heady affair. Still as ‘ivory tower’ as you might think they would be, I found them to be affable and down to earth fellas who seemed, more than anything, to have a lot of fun with their research and to love coming up with cool ways to share what they’ve discovered with others. I laughed as much as I learned and left feeling both light headed from drinking some gorgeous wines as well as enlightened by the session.
Cambalache – One Night in Argentina … in Dalston
The wine and music pairing was hosted by Wines of Argentina as a prelude to its upcoming Cambalache wine festival in Dalston this April. During the event, Smith and Spence will be on hand to run guests through the same wine with music tasting that I got to experience.
Cambalache will feature 150 wines from 28 of Argentina’s top wineries. There’ll be street food from Borough Market’s Argentine specialists, Porteña; cocktails from Galante Bar; dulche de leche ice cream from The Ice Cream Union; live graffiti mural painting; tango performances and much more.
Cambalache – One Night in Argentina will be Thursday 18 April from 6pm to 11pm at MC Motors, 76 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XB.
Tickets cost £35 and will include all food and drink. Visit winesofargentina.org/cambalache for more info and to book.
About Barry Smith and Charles Spence
Barry Smith is a Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute of Philosophy in the School of Advanced Study, University of London where he co-directs a Centre for the Study of the Senses. He is the editor of Questions and Taste – the Philosophy of Wine (Oxford University Press 2007). He is a frequent contributor to In Our Time, and Nightwave, and resented a four part series for the BBC World Service on ‘The Mysteries of the Brain’. He is a contributor to The World of Fine Wine and writes a monthly wine column for Prospect Magazine. He has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley and at the École Normale Supérieure.
Charles Spence is the head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory based at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University. He is interested in how people perceive the world around them … Over the years, Charles has consulted for a number of multinational companies advising on various aspects of multisensory design, packaging, and branding. He has also conducted research on human-computer interaction issues on the Crew Work Station on the European Space Shuttle. Charles and his group are currently working on problems associated with the design of foods that maximally stimulate the senses (together with Heston Blumenthal, chef of The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray) … [He] has published more than 300 articles in top-flight scientific journals over the last 15 years … been awarded … the 2008 IG Nobel prize for nutrition, for his groundbreaking work on the ‘sonic crisp’!