If you have been a follower of my blog posts here on NMT Green Room, you know that in addition to pursuing my Masters in Musical Theatre, I have also been studying wine. I am sitting for my WSET Level 2 Certification test in a couple of weeks and have been studying different wines and regions like crazy, which inspired a new Wine Pairing post! Because this is the second in this series, I decided to pair composing teams with a wine I believe captures the essence of their music. For those of you who aren’t prone to spirits or aren’t of age, I have also included “tasting notes” so you can find something besides wine that might work for your tastes!
Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez – Champagne
What better wine to pair the composers of songs from Frozen with than a chilled Champagne? I have the pleasure of working at La Jolla Playhouse, so I got to have an inside look at this married composing team’s process, which helped in this decision. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes bring their own wonderful qualities together in order to make beautiful Champagne. Similarly, Bobby brings a talent for music and a youthful spirit and Kristen brings a knack for clear storytelling and witty lyrics together in order to make fun, exciting, and dare I say bubbly musicals. So grab yourself a glass of Champagne (or sparkling wine), put on Finding Nemo the Musical, and prepare to have yourself some fun!
Sankoff and Hein – Montepulciano
Another married duo made their La Jolla Playhouse debut this summer with the gorgeous musical Come From Away. I was completely entranced by this piece of theatre—so much so that I wasn’t even thinking about wine! My recommendation? Pour yourself a glass of Montepulciano and listen to everything they’ve written. Both this wine and composing team are known for structure, color (listen to the earthiness in “Welcome to Newfoundland”), and consistently amazing quality. This team and this wine are always on point- you don’t know exactly what it will taste like or sound like, but you know you are in for a treat.
Goldrich and Heisler – Viognier
Let’s start with the wine on this one: Viognier is a floral, fruity, full bodied white wine that is new to a lot of people. As great as it is on its own, it tastes equally as great blended with the red grape Shiraz (or Syrah). These two amazing women are talented and successful in their own right (like a great Viognier), and paired together, they create some delicious magic! One of my favorite songs of theirs is “Fifteen Pounds” from Adventures in Love. Also, big kudos on the world premiere of their musical Ever After at the Paper Mill Playhouse this past summer.
Carner and Gregor – Sauternes
These guys are freaking hilarious! I was lucky enough to have just graduated college when they came to work on Island Song with many of my friends at Western Carolina U, and I was moved not only by their skill at creating relatable songs but also by how sweet and wonderful they are as people. Sauternes is a sweet wine made up of a quality Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux. While it is not what I would normally choose to pair with dinner, it is a nice treat for the end of the evening and only gets better with age. Drink in the sweet nectar of this wine while you also take in the great storytelling and musicality of the creations from these sweet friends.
Salzman and Cunningham – Trebbiano
In a Playbill profile, these two friends said, “We have a lot of influences, both in the theatre world and the popular music world… that reverence for the best theatrical songwriters of all time, combined with a love of contemporary pop storytelling, probably best explains why we write the songs we write.” The grape Trebbiano is a part of every basic Italian wine, specifically a sanctioned grape for the blend that makes up Chianti. It is also used to make Cognac and Brandy! These writers are similarly versatile and consistent in the quality of their pieces. These men cover many different styles and genres but ultimately stay true to their contemporary sound and commitment to storytelling. Grab a bottle of any Italian wine, but especially Trebbiano, and enjoy all things nice, consistent and committed to learning from the past.
Miller and Tysen – Beaujolais
While they characterize themselves as “equal parts James Taylor and Stephen Sondheim” with a folky, earthy sound, I like to think of this team as a great red wine from the region of Beaujolais. These wines are known for being young, fresh, light, fruity and easy to drink. Miller and Tysen’s works are a joy to listen to (see: “Everlasting” from the upcoming Tuck Everlasting) and continue to surprise me. They are also constantly working on something new and have a history of presenting new works at off-Broadway and nonprofit theatres. Their music is thoughtful and creative while being refreshing and comforting. My recommendation: buy a mid-price range bottle of Gamay from Beaujolais and geek out over all things Miller and Tysen- you won’t be disappointed with either.
Until next time- keep drinking and listening together!