Perfect Pairings: Fine Wines & Furnishings

Adam Japko dives into a delightful sensory experience of beautiful craftsmanship

Home furnishings and fine wine are sensory indulgences that elevate the ordinary. We rely on all our senses to appreciate both. With wine we see shades of color and clarity, smell wood and esters masquerading as fruit, herbs, and flowers, hear sparkling bubbles and popping corks, touch mouthfeel viscosity and richness, and taste fruit flavors, acidity, oak and more.

Some chefs dedicate enormous energy to fine tuning perfect food and wine marriages; just like designers spend entire careers matchmaking architecture, place, color, textures, and furnishings in proper scale. Sometimes we drink wine and food that are opposing styles (like Rieslings or Chenin Blancs with residual sweet sugars to survive spicy Asian food) and in other instances create pairings more logically akin that fold neatly into knitted matrimony. Great design mixes and matches style elements as well.

I began integrating wine and design in my work 30 years ago. Design and wine shared airtime through international wine and design tours, wine writing, design magazines, conferences, and education. This past June, as I walked around High Point Market (one that was more serene and free of the usual oversubscribed agenda I always bring to Market twice a year), I found myself considering showrooms and products with enough calm and space to think about wines they reminded me of. Here are a few pairings, all from home and wine brands I have come to admire, that made me smile as I reveled in the peaceful Market environment.

Currey & Company & A.A. Badenhorst Chenin Blanc

Currey & Company featured mind bending, one of a kind metal sculptures by Thai artist Prakit Seehawong. I wanted to sit among them all day. Seehawong studied art from Africa and Asia and says capturing the expression of the eyes is essential to his creations. These primitive pieces of artwork lit up the showroom but also transported me to Africa where I first became consumed with traditional village artwork 30 years ago. I immediately thought of Adi Badenhorst who farms Swartland South African bush vines not too far from Cape Town in a hot and rain deprived zone. His entry level wine is a $15 Chenin Blanc called Secateurs. It is widely available in the USA and has become my house white wine. Sitting in a room filled with Seehawong’s sculptures sipping Secateurs seems to be a perfect pairing of creator sensibility.



Eastern Accents and Pepiere Muscadet

Eastern Accents featured an amazing duvet cover by Celerie Kemble. She combined her Palm Beach and Manhattan sensibilities to create an amazing collection of bedding and home décor. The duvet pattern shouted bright lemon and reminded me of one night I spent in the western end of France’s Loire Valley where we tasted Muscadet wines all day. These white wines are made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, grown very close to the sea and the city of Nantes. They often show lemon zest aromatics with saline liveliness, sell for less than $20, and are among the best values in world class white wines. My favorite producer of Muscadet is Pepiere and I’m especially fond of this bottling, called Briords. Imagine sipping Pepiere with a cool ocean breeze and oysters before retiring under your Kemble covered duvet for the evening.

Eastern Accents


Jaipur Living and Corison Cabernet

I paused for lunch near my favorite High Point Market food truck and started scanning Instagram #HPMKT. I found this peaceful room laid on top of a really special Jaipur Living rug from their Urban Pause collection. The rug provides foundation and supporting structure while integrating quietly with the many elements that produce a peacefully soft and pleasingly balanced room.

It reminded me of Kathy Corison’s epic Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley. Her wines are always knitted together seamlessly with enough soft structure to hold them together for decades. The foundational glue of these wines is never overwhelming, bothersome, nor attention stealing. The results are delicate wines with pretty aromas and flavors that other producers sometimes too often overwhelm with wood, tannin, or severely ripe fruit. Corison Cabernet begs to be served in this room.

Jaipur Living


Norwalk Furniture and Tribute to Grace Grenache

I purposely wandered into Norwalk’s showroom and joined Caroline Hipple and Jill Seale on this elegant sofa with lines that allow it to own the room without appearing burdensome.

You could have three different parties going on all at once on this single sofa. I don’t know if it was about being with these two always-classy women, but the moment was redolent of a grace and style I never felt sitting on a sofa. Its texture was uniquely soft, elegant, and inviting. I could not stop running my hands over and through the supple textile, amazed by the piece’s large scale and calming vibe.

I wanted to drink Angela Osborne’s Tribute to Grace Grenache. Grown in the Santa Barbara Highlands, these wines are pushing new frontiers in California Grenache. It took a woman like Angela to relocate from her New Zealand homeland to create showstopper biodynamic Grenache that is full of grace, beauty, comfort, and quality. No finer Grenache is made in the new world. And like the sofa, it’s a giant force that fits in unassumingly.



Universal Furniture and Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage

After checking into Universal Furniture with tired legs, it was impossible not to plop down onto this attention grabbing sofa. Not subtle by any means, it was clubby, handsome, and very well made. It projects restrained power with pretty touches that allow it to participate in the room nicely without sacrificing its inherent boldness.

It made me think of big, bold, peppery, spicy, Syrah red wines. The best examples of these wines are grown and produced in the Northern Rhone Valley of France. The French wine appellation Crozes-Hermitage can often produce super fine Syrah at amazing value prices…another direct connection to Universal Furniture’s value/quality program.

In 2017, one of the great producers in that region, Paul Jaboulet, produced a Domaine de Thalabert version that begs to be drunk on this sofa. Black fruit, hints of chocolate, game meat, pepper, plum, cassis, smoke and fine gripping tannins create a very high quality adult drinking experience. The wine demands notice, stands out in the crowd, and is the finest example in its class. For that reason, I craved a glass sitting here.

It is not a stretch to connect wine and design. It just takes sensory awareness and creativity. Producing wine pairings with home furnishings can bring a new layer of sensibility to your work, and can help your customers understand your ideas by relating them to something they know and enjoy.



About Adam Japko

The founder of luxury media brand Esteem Media, Adam has an extensive background in publishing, online communications, and event management. He is an active member of the wine industry’s social media landscape through his award winning blog; WineZag. Esteem Media is also a High Point Market Authority partner with the Design Influencers Tour and Insiders Tour.