Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: Deliverance

In the South, drinking is the national sport.  That’s why they named their beer “Dixie.”  Of course, they also name their cars, hunting dogs and little girls “Dixie,” but those are for other columns.  This one is about wine and movies, and it says here the best movie about the southern United States is “Deliverance.”

It’s not a feel-good movie.  It’s a writhing, retching record of the worst that humanity has to offer, and I don’t mean litterbugs.  Those goons are scary stupid, and those city boys are way out of their element.  They should have turned around and gone back home at the first sign of trouble, but you know what a bad influence that Burt Reynolds can be.

When Burt told the local yokel that fifty dollars was too much for the ride, maybe he should have used a little more tact.  “Fifty my left pinkie” might not have riled ‘em up as much as “Fifty my ass.”   Of course, it may have raised different concerns.

I’m from the South, so I’ve heard the entire roster of “squeal like a pig” comments, thank you.  Yes, there really are people out there who keep the memory of that line alive as humor.  Scary stupid.  I knew a guy who raised exotic birds.  He was fond of saying, “Scream like a peacock,” but I don’t think it was in reference to the movie.

The music of “Deliverance” gave the banjo a rare appearance in the Top Forty.  The instrumental “Dueling Banjos” was a big hit, performed by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandel.  That big wave of follow-up banjo hits never occurred, though, even on country radio.  Forty years later we are still waiting for the banjo craze to cycle back around.  I think we are ripe for a banjo rap song.  Banjoists should run an ad campaign: “Hey, at least it’s not accordions!”

My wife and I overheard Ronny Cox tell an interesting story about his experience in “Deliverance” as we sat at the next table during lunch at the Mulholland Grill.  He said the kid who played the banjo in the movie was terribly afraid of playing in front of the cameras.  The kid took a shine to Ronny, though, and didn’t have any problem playing his part as long as Cox was nearby.  Everybody appreciated that, but Cox’s character was found floating belly up anyway.  Sorry for eavesdropping, Ronny.

As long as we’re in the Southeast trying to decide which is worse - the heat or the humidity - let’s do something that had to happen sooner or later.  Let’s go Muscadine.

The Muscadine grape is indigenous to the Southeastern US, although you can find it growing a purty far piece up the eastern seaboard and even as far west as Texas - yee-haw!  Fans of wine made from vinifera grapes - the sort grown in France, or California - will immediately turn up their little pug noses at the hint of a Muscadine wine.  But the grape grows well in conditions that would leave a Chardonnay grape fanning itself on the divan. 

Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have been so impressed with Muscadine wine he traded a carton of cigarettes to the Indians for some and sent it back to Queen Elizabeth.  There’s no record of how she liked it, but it probably ran a close race with okra.

The Muscadine grape survives in lousy grape-growing weather because it has 20 pairs of chromosomes, one more pair than European grapes.  That's also the reason there is about 40 times the amount of antioxidants as in traditional wine grapes.

There’s a nice little Muscadine produced in Alabama, at Morgan Creek Vineyards.  It might take a little getting used to it, but it’s got great acidity and is a good fit with food.

Do you deliver?

Organic Muscadine can be found coming out of Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina and Louisiana.

Muddy Water “Deliverance” wine - This Waipara Valley wine from New Zealand is a blend of Syrah and Pinotage, the latter sometimes regarded as lowly as Muscadine.

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