Nandi Rose Plunket loves wine. Music, of course, but also wine. In fact, she even celebrated the fresh release of Mythopoetics, her new album as Half Waif, with a festive evening of wine pairing.
Wine and music are both “ancient and historical,” says Nandi. “People have been enjoying these things for a long time.” She encourages an atmosphere of exploration for these traditions — remove any hesitation to engage and just dive in. “You don’t have to know it all to enjoy it!”
Nandi has had the opportunity to travel the world on her tours, and her memories of enjoying local wine in places like Spain and Greece have solidified her regard of wine as a way to “enrich experience.” On-tap wines and house blends in restaurants and small wineries — sometimes the most simple of pleasures — became connections that conveyed the cultural environment of the places to which she traveled to play music.
She’s spent time recently contemplating wine (and some spirits) as beverages born from plants. “I’m finding myself much more in communication with nature and how it permeates our lives in unexpected ways,” says Nandi.
During time spent at her home in Chatham, New York, the pandemic opened up new avenues of creativity including poetry, cooking, and an interest in plants and permaculture. She became curious to understand the bigger systems surrounding daily life, and caring for the land has piqued Nandi’s interest in the origins of wine and the vineyard life from which it came.
Choosing a wine became a ritual for Nandi over the past year and half. “We found ways to treat ourselves in dark times,” she recalls. “Buying a nice wine was something I’d look forward to.” She finds herself cooking much more, particularly Indian food which has a “comforting, cultural ancestry” for her — her mother is Indian. For super spicy food, Nandi goes with “crisp and cold” Chenin Blanc.
There are several aspects of natural wine that Nandi finds appealing. With less intervention “the plant is doing more of the talking,” she says. Supporting small batch producers and independent farms is important to her, as is “knowing who is behind the product — the people and their background.”
Still, she’s not tied any particular wine methods or styles. “We often define ourselves and stake our identity on what we like or don’t like,” says Nandi. “We should be more open.” This also applies to music during a time when she feels that “genre is becoming much more porous and fluid.”
She says that as a songwriter, this gives her more permission to try things outside of her wheelhouse. Nandi’s music has been described as “synth-pop and electronic” (she also used the term “emotional” in reflection) but now she says the “landscape has opened.”
For Nandi, wine presents an opportunity to dive into a conversation, or simply mark a moment as something out of the ordinary. “Opening up a bottle is a wonderful way to hang with a friend,” she says. A meal and a well-chosen glass of wine make for a fertile spread for creativity, and as Nandi says, there’s “something sensual about drinking wine.”