What to sip as you listen to the symphony from the lawn outside the Benedict Music Tent? For input, we turned to wine expert Mark Oldman, one of the most entertaining presenters at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen going on 13 years. Per our request, he paired a piece from each of the Aspen Music Festival and School’s eight Sunday afternoon concerts with the perfect wine accompaniment and told us why.
Arista Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 2015, $55
With its plethora of harmonic shifts and a bold, spirited conclusion, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in C major deserves a complex, generous, and loveable pinot noir from Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.
Michele Chiarlo Barbaresco Reyna, 2014, $50
Ravel’s dark but majestic “La Valse,” known for its passion, urgency, and emotional fervor, calls for an intense, refined red, such as a cherry-and-leather–scented Barbaresco from Italy’s kingly Piedmont region.
Perrier Jouët Grand Brut Champagne, nv, $45
Russian composer Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition deserves a wine that is equally exotic, romantic, and ultimately triumphal. No other beverage does this work justice but Champagne, which, appropriately, was popularized by 19th-century Russian czars.
Bodegas Faustino I Gran Reserva Rioja, 2005, $40
A work like Richard Strauss’s “Don Quixote, Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character” needs a robust Spaniard of equal renown. A high-quality, spicy Rioja doesn’t need to tilt at windmills to express its fidelity.
Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014, $60
Tchaikovsky’s beautiful, enduringly popular Piano Concerto no. 1 in B-flat minor is the gateway drug to classical music for many people; similarly, a luscious Napa cabernet sauvignon is many people’s introduction to fine wine.
Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé, 2016, $40
Bernstein’s Serenade, after Plato’s Symposium, a tribute to the ancient Greek philosopher’s love-focused “drinking party” (the literal translation), necessitates a wine that is both romantic and festive. In that context, and with the warmth of August upon us, there is no other option but to drink pink.
Pazo de Señorans Albariño, Rías Baixas, 2016, $20
Ravel’s and Debussy’s nautically focused “Une Barque Sur l’Océan” and “La Mer” provide the perfect backdrop for the bright, minerally delights of Albariño, a wine from a uniquely maritime climate in northwest Spain.
Benovia Sonoma County Zinfandel, 2015, $40
Celebratory, grand, and associated with victory (and, of course, Apocalypse Now), selected scenes from Wagner’s Die Walküre, especially the Ride of the Valkyries, evoke a wine that is both robust and polished, such as a high-end California zin.
Perfect Picnic Gear
(clockwise from below): Eagle Creek's Packable Ground Cloth, $30; Santoku knife set with cutting board and three knives, $30, and nesting red wine glass set with detachable bases, $16, both from GSI Outdoors; Mountain Khaki's Outdoorist Rope Tote, $90