Heraclitus was right. You can’t step in the same stream twice. The stream is ever changing and you are changed by your experience of the stream.
It’s like that with wine and music.
You can’t listen to the same piece of music twice. I remember as a teenager that sense of anticipation as I put a new (actually, usually second-hand, from Scorpion Records in High Wycombe) album on the turntable and listened for the first time.
It was the start of a relationship with those tracks. I knew that the initial listen would be different from the second, fourth, or 20th. As I listened, the music became part of me. And each subsequent hearing would involve an internal playing of the song as I listened to it. To try to assess music on the first listen (as I imagine many music critics or A&R people have to do) is a different sort of experience than that of the person who has purchased the music and will listen to it repeatedly. [Having said this, broad brush decisions about quality and likeability can be made quickly, especially by experienced professionals.]
Sometimes music that appeals of first listening grows boring quickly. And as my teenage musical taste showed me, you can grow to love quirky or mediocre music if you listen to it a lot, have positive associations with it, or you decide you’d like to like it.
What about wine? The brain processes taste and smell rather differently to auditory stimuli, but there are some parallels. The main one is that our relationship with a particular wine, or styles of wine, or specific flavour components of wine (such as sweet blackcurrant fruit, or vanilla oak, or the gamey flavours of brett) with repeated experience. We are very much part of the equation when it comes to assessing wine.
All the time, as we drink more wine, our experience is augmented. And we then bring this experience to the next glass of wine. It adds to the complexity of wine, for sure, but also the fun. But I reckon we have to be careful not to stretch this analogy too far. Music, I reckon, is much more personal than wine. I think that if I got a group of 20 buddies together, we’d share a taste in wine much more than we’d be able to agree on music to play.
Where the analogy does work quite well is with popular taste. Listen to music radio and you are presented with the same rather boring, inoffensive, mainstream tastes as you might find on supermarket wine aisles. A shared popular culture of music or wine or films or literature is going, by definition, to be restricted to safe, somewhat bland, easily appreciated choices. To experience real pleasure, in most walks of life, you have to leave the mainstream behind.