We sat down with singer and self-described "shit, but enthusiastic" drinker Carol Decker of T'Pau to listen to six of her favourite records, pair them up with a few wines – courtesy of London's finest wine shop, Planet Of The Grapes – and then chat about disco stompers, rocking in Shropshire and the worst hangovers she has ever, ever had.
Track 1/ Sheila & B. Devotion – Spacer
Paired with Rimauresq Rose de Provence 2012 @ £15 per bottle
Matt (Planet Of The Grapes): On the basis of what’s chilled and what’s not, let’s start with the one that Nile Rodgers did.
Carol Decker: Nile? My new best friend? He’s following me on Twitter. We are like that (crosses fingers). Well, he’s tweeted me back twice.
Carol: A lot of people have rediscovered Nile Rodgers and they’ve completely forgotten Sheila & B. Devotion. Now, I’ve been crazy about this track since it first came out in the 70s.
Matt: When you sent your tracks through, I was listening to this one thinking ‘How do I not have a copy of this track?’
Carol: It’s beautiful.
Matt: So you listen to a tune like that, it’s a sunny day, you imagine people playing it out of their stereos outside, drinking rosé, having a bit of a dance in the evening after a few bottles of the sort of stuff that they say “Yeah, it’s really easy to drink, you don’t even know you’re having a drink!” and then realise you’re battered.
Carol: I drive my neighbours crazy with this one, because I still crank my stereo up around 2 in the morning like I’m a teenager.
Over this glass Carol and Matt talk guitar riffs, grape therapy, chemical blankets.
Track 2/ The Rolling Stones – Almost Hear You Sigh
Paired with Hugel Riesling Jubilee 2004 @ £36.50
Matt: This is the most tenuous of tenuous links, but you put a Stones track in there, didn’t you?
Carol: Almost Hear You Sigh.
Matt: So I’ve chosen an old white, for some old, white men, basically. This is a 2004, so a ten year old wine, which is quite old for a white.
Carol: It’s gorgeous
Matt: And I think that, even though it’s got a bit of age on it, it’s still pretty decent. So there you go. There is your tenuous link. SEAMLESS.
Carol: Now, Riesling is a funny one – because you can get dry and sweet ones, can’t you? And we bought the wrong one by mistake, thinking it was dry. It didn’t say on the bottle. I guess you’ve got to know your areas.
Matt: The way you can tell – the general rule – is the alcohol content. if the alcohol content is fairly low it will normally mean that it’s a sweeter wine because they stop the fermentation. And the fermentation process is what turns the sugars into alcohol. So if you stop that early, it makes sense that it’s going to leave some sugar in. It’s called residual sugar.
Carol: Ooh, I’m learning a lot here. So, the stronger the wine I buy, the less sugar is in it?
Matt: Erm… (cautiously) Yeah…
Carol: And that’s better for my waistline?
Matt: Well, I… Champagne has a thing in it called ‘dosage’ and so some of the champagne producers started doing a thing called a ‘low dosage’ i.e. really brut, dry champagne. Then one of them – I can’t remember which – started billing it as a great ‘diet’ champagne, and no… really, when you’re talking about the amount you’re putting in to the bottle, compared to what’s already in the bottle, it’s not going to cut it. But people did go for it.
Over this glass, Carol manages to both love and hate the Rolling Stones.
Track 3/ Joe Jackson – Different For Girls
Paired with Bertrand Ambroise St Romain 2012 @ £27.50
Matt: I was really struggling with Joe Jackson. It’s weird, because I was listening to him and he sort of sounds American but he’s not. He’s from Southampton. So then I thought maybe something that fitted in with that song in particular, but then I found out that he’s a real staunch lobbyist against smoking bans.
Carol: He’s an enthusiastic smoker, is he?
Matt: So I’ve chosen a white burgundy with some really nice smoky oak on it. It’s a lovely wine. It’s not a sink-it kind of wine, it’s more of a take-your-time-and-enjoy-it wine, and I think that fits with his music.
Carol: I’m The Man – which is the album this song comes from – is one of the first records I bought in my early 20s. It was a really defining time for me, and I think music back then was just great.
Matt: Now, I’ve put this on the ice and I’m annoyed at myself because I shouldn’t have done. White burgundy, as a rule, is a wine you should try to drink a little bit closer to room temperature.
Matt: Not warm, but you dumb a lot of the flavours down when you chill it. And the nose, this producer, uses a certain oak barrel that gives a slightly smoky, slightly flinty note on the nose.
Over this glass Carol and Matt expand on bad wine, hangovers and bad wine hangovers.
Track 4/ The Beat – Mirror In The Bathroom
Paired with Ambriel Classic Cuvee NV @ £32
Matt: Next up is The Beat – or otherwise known as The English Beat when they were in America – so we’re going to have some English sparkling wine.
Carol: Oh wow. Is it dry?
Matt: Yeah. And it’s from Sussex. Made by a lady who’s a QC around the corner from here in Chambers.
Carol: It’s really nice. So it’s an English sparkling wine?
Matt: It’s champagne grapes, using the champagne method. It’s basically champagne but from Sussex.
Carol: It’s got very nice, light, fine little bubbles. You see – seeing as we’re all talking about my age – white wine and fizz is really starting to drill a hole through my sternum.
Matt: Most people don’t really realise this, but champagne is actually one of the most acidic wines known to man. If you drink champagne and lots of it, it really does feel like it’s drilling through your guts.
Carol: But it’s celebration, it’s fun and the working class girl that I am – the little girl who was poor in the council flat – every time I see champagne now, I think I’m special. I think I’m in with the rich kids. So I’ll drink it and I end up having the worst bloody indigestion.
Over this glass, Carol describes a sweaty Beat gig.
Track 5/ The Pretenders – Talk Of The Town
Paired with IONA – Mr P Pinot Noir 2013 @ £14
Matt: For The Pretenders, I’ve got this Mr P. That’s not the reason for it. I did a little bit of research on this song and there’s talk that the lyrics are all about unrequited love – that kind of stuff – and pinot noir is one of things that you kind of fall in love with but it’s an absolute bitch to make. It’s a difficult grape to grow properly and therefore it’s one of those wines that inspires a love and hate thing.
Carol: I struggle with pinot noire because – and you’ll know where I’m coming from here, baby – I like a bit of heft in my red.
Matt: This has got a little bit more delicacy to it. It can go badly wrong, it can tasted baked, it can taste a little bit farmyardy.
Carol: This is just a little farmyardy. It’s gorgeous.
Matt: The French phrase is sous bois, which is undergrowth, earthy.
Carol: Oh, I thought you were going to say ‘a bit shit’. My French is a bit rusty.
Matt: Well, the classic phrase with the red burgundy (which is a pinot noir) and it goes “If all the best red burgundies smell a little bit of shit, why doesn’t my shit smell a little bit of red burgundy?”
(Carol nearly spits her wine out)
Over this glass, Carol tells us how Chrissie Hynde is cool but chippy.
Track 6/ Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Runnin’ Down A Dream
Paired with Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey @ £32
Carol: Is this for Tom Petty?
Matt: Well I said to Martin who works here, I don’t know what to do for Tom Petty and Martin said “You have to do bourbon.” I asked why, and Martin said, “Have you not heard Tom Petty speak?” But we didn’t have any bourbon, so I found some rye which is even better as it dirty and more deep south.
Carol: Well, I disagree with you on this one. Shall I tell you why?
Matt: Go on.
Carol explains her alternative choice for Tom Petty.
The new T’Pau album Pleasure And Pain is out now
To order any of the wines, pay a visit to Planet Of The Grapes