Friday, December 30, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - Carquake

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week, our three movies concern L.A.'s favorite obsession - after movies, of course - cars. There is a wine pairing for each. Let's get revved up.

Gumball Rally is a 1976 laffer about a coast-to-coast auto race with no rules - rather like Can-Am racing with less horsepower. A rich candy manufacturer, overcome with ennui, gets his car enthusiast pals together for the rally - which he hopes will liven up his humdrum life. 

It's a car-chase movie, so you know there is a hitch. In this case, the hitch is a bumbling L.A. cop who has made a career out of trying to apprehend the racers. You can bet your greasy camshaft that he will try and shut down the race at any cost. Never mind that there must be an infinite number of more pressing matters for the police to handle - this cop has a one-track mind.

The Gumball Rally was won by the AC Cobra, so a snake wine might be the pairing temptation here - a bottle of wine with a snake in it. Really. However, after reading multiple accounts of people being bitten by snakes which came back to life upon opening the bottle - really - we are going to discard that idea. 

In honor of the film's lead actor - Michael Sarrazin - let's go with a namesake wine from Burgundy. Domaine Michel Sarrazin et Fils has a great range of Bourgognes - we can call them Pinot Noirs - from $25. The reds are recommended to match the color of Sarrazin's AC Cobra.

That same bicentennial year, Ron Howard starred in Eat My Dust. Producer Roger Corman agreed to let Howard direct a movie of his own if he took the lead in Dust. It proved to be a good move for all concerned, since the payoff picture was Grand Theft Auto, and who doesn't wish they had a piece of that pie?

Dust has Howard as the son of a lawman who does not make papa proud. He steals a race car and leads dad and his deputies on a pursuit that would be the envy of the reporter in the Channel Two Traffic Copter. Trivia fans will note that the film features Dave Madden and Corbin Bernson in smaller roles. Nepotism fans will note that Howard's dad Rance and brother Clint also had roles. It is, indeed, who you know.

Napa Valley's Flora Springs Winery makes a Howell Mountain Cab called Dust and Glory, so at your Eat My Dust viewing party you can invite guests to drink yours. You'll want to keep the invitees to a select few, since this Dust sells for $175 a bottle.

In 1977's Smokey and the Bandit, Burt Reynolds starred alongside Jackie Gleason, Pat McCormick, Paul Williams, Jerry Reed and Sally Field - whom he first met on the set. The story is as flimsy as a fiberglass fender. A truckload of Coors beer has to make it from Texas to Georgia no matter how many police cars get wrecked along the way. All that car carnage for Coors beer? There's no accounting for taste. 

Smokey started out as a cash-in on the CB radio fad of the 1970s, but ended up being a big part of the trend. It also helped crown Reynolds as the king of the box office for a while. Jerry Reed wrote his biggest hit for the picture - "East Bound and Down" - which is good enough hick-pop for my money but is certainly no "Amos Moses."

Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Buford T. Justice was an over-the-top revelation, recasting the mold of the Fat Southern Cop while adding Sumbitch - or Scum Bum in the edited for TV version - to a Gleason lexicon which includes "How sweet it is," "And awaaay we go" and "To the moon, Alice." 

This wine and movie pairing is a no-brainer. Bandit Wines was co-founded by Joel Gott. The super-eco-friendly Tetra Pak cartons don't scream "box wine" so much as they do "milk," and they are depicted as being portable enough to slip into your cargo shorts for a hike. Just remember that drinking and hiking don't mix. Y'all hike careful, now, heah?

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Monday, December 26, 2022

Sweet Wine For The Sweet

Bella Winery is a small, family-run outfit in Sonoma County which places their focus on Zinfandel wines, made in small lots. Today, we sample a dessert style Zin.

The 2019 Bella Late Harvest Zinfandel Special Release is made from 93% Zinfandel grapes and 7% Petite Sirah, from the hillsides of Lily Hill Vineyard - first planted in 1915. The folks at Bella say Lily Hill "has become synonymous with zinfandels of elegance and substance."

The wine's appellation is Dry Creek Valley, always a good spot for Zinfandel. This dessert vintage carries alcohol at 14.8% abv and residual sugar at 10% by weight. The retail price is $34 for the 375 ml bottle.

In the glass, this wine is dark and viscous. The nose of cassis has layers of sage and eucalyptus over it, with a streak of black pepper right down the middle. Thick, rich and juicy in the mouth, the palate shows a sweetness that is not cloying. In fact, it borders on tart. The red fruit is dominant and there is an acidity which is lip-smacking, along with a tannic grip that demands your attention. This will be great with cheesecake - in fact, a little thicker, it would be great poured over cheesecake. 

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Friday, December 23, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - Silents Please

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ There are no words for this week's movies. They're silent. Well, two of them are. We have corks to pop for each.

The Man Who Laughs is from 1928 and was one of the first Universal silent films to be gussied up with that newfangled gimmick, "sound." In addition to the sound effects, they even threw in a love song.

Paul Leni directed the movie in the dark fashion that typified German Expressionism. The lead character, Gwynplaine, was disfigured with a surgical grin across his face, and became known as the laughing man - and other, more cruel taunts in the schoolyard, no doubt. The Victor Hugo character had the last laugh, though, as the template for the Batman villain The Joker.

The grin is so macabre and the mood so glum that many moviegoers of the day figured The Man Who Laughs for a horror flick instead of a romantic drama. That sickening smile also explains why he wore his turtleneck pulled up so high.

As one who likes to sample wines from across these United States, here is one from Kansas - yes, that Kansas - that should bring a twisted smile to your face. Purple Grin is a sweet wine - not dessert sweet, but the opposite of dry - from the Sunflower State's Prairie Fire Winery

Lon Chaney was slated to play Gwynplaine, but a rights issue kept him out of the role. The studio gave Chaney his pick for his next movie, and it turned out to be 1925's Phantom of the Opera, a wise choice, and the most famous of the thousand faces for which he would be known.

You know the story - a disfigured man has a thing for an opera singer and penchant for melodrama. Chaney reportedly made up his own makeup for the role of the Phantom, which was shocking enough to justify the character wearing a mask and hanging out in the shadows. Masks are a barrel of laughs until someone rips the veil off the disfigured man's face. Then it's get-the-hell-out-of-the-opera-house time.

Bogle makes a "hauntingly delightful" pair of wines called Phantom - a red one and a white one. Pick your favorite or have both. They cost only about $15 each.

When Comedy Was King came from 1960, but it is a compilation of some of the great comedy scenes from the silent era. You get a heaping helping of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, the Keystone Kops and, as they say in the commercials, "many many more."

The cover for the DVD screams that we "never dreamed a film could be so funny," which is rather over-the-top even by show biz standards. Sure, there are some very funny clips included in the picture, from some very funny people. However, I don't need anyone telling me how funny I dream. I dream funny enough without making a contest out of it. 

For a film about comedy, Let's pair a wine which supplied one of the best laughs about wine - to wine nerds, anyway. In Sideways, Miles makes no bones about his disdain for Merlot. The wine he is saving for a special occasion, however - a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc - is actually a Merlot blend. Miles pours his from a paper bag, paired with a hamburger. Hopefully you can find better accompaniment for yours, since that vintage runs in the thousands of dollars. Plan to spend 500 bills for a 2021 bottle.

note:  From the standpoint of a wine guy dabbling in movies, it would have been nice to have King Vidor's silent exploitation film, "The Wine of Youth," included in this piece. Maybe it will surface when "Still More Silents Please" comes around.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Dark, Complex Pinot Noir From Russian River Valley

Healdsburg winery Ten Acre made a "strictly limited production" of their 2019 Twenty Leaf Pinot Noir. The grapes were grown in Sonoma County's heralded region for Pinot, the Russian River Valley, where the afternoon breeze blows in the fog along the banks to give the fruit the cool climate it craves.

The wine - named to showcase the 20th vintage of the Jenkins Vineyard - is oak-aged in both French and American barrels, new wood. Several clones of Pinot Noir grapes went into the fermenter, mostly 115 and 667, for the grape nerds among us. The winemaker says the original floral notes on the wine are colored darker and earthier by the oak treatment. Alcohol sits at 14.4% abv and it sells for $68. 

There is a medium-dark tint to this Pinot and a complex nose that intrigues from the first sniff. In addition to the expected aromas of cherry, cola and tea, much darker, earthier tones arise. Sage is particularly noticeable, with leather, trampled leaves and nutmeg also appearing. The palate is somewhat muscular - to be expected, it seems, in California Pinot - but not so much that its elegance is obliterated. The acidity is fresh and invigorating and the tannins are gentle. The finish is lengthy and has a hint of eucalyptus in it.

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Monday, December 19, 2022

Sonoma Zinfandel Specialists Make Four-Grape Bubbly

The small, family-run Zinfandel specialists Bella Winery make a sparkling wine, too. The Ru Blanc de Noirs utilizes a fairly standard grape recipe, with a twist. In addition to the main component of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier - 73% and 17% respectively - and a splash of Chardonnay, there is a 6% helping of Pinot Gris grapes. I don't believe I have ever had a sparkling wine with Pinot Gris grapes in it, but there is a first time for everything. All the fruit was grown in Sonoma County.

Ru Blanc de Noirs is a Traditional Method sparkler, a non-vintage bubbly from one of California's top wine regions. Alcohol sails in at 12.1% abv and the price is $48, but it is listed as being sold out on the Bella website.

This wine pours up bubbly and with a very slight copper-tinted hue. The nose offers a wealth of cherry, apricot and lemon aromas, but in a savory framework of salinity. There is a yeasty touch as well. On the palate, the fruit leads the way, but an amazing acidity really steals the show. This wine is as fresh and lively as they come. Pair it with just about anything - that's the real beauty of a sparkling wine, its versatility. 

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Friday, December 16, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - The Devil Made Me Do It

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week's trio of films are a hell of a good time to watch. There are appropriate wine pairings for each, of course.

Demons is a 1985 Italian horror film, which we know because nearly everyone involved with the production has a name ending in a vowel. The story concerns a movie theater full of people who were invited to a free screening. Inside the cinema they are attacked by horrible creatures - let's just call them demons. It's a case of life imitating art, as the real demons seem to spring forth in the same way as those in the movie. 

Demon zero is a girl who was scratched by a dangerous relic on display in the lobby. Let's all go to the snack bar, indeed - just don't get too close to that graveyard artifact while you're buttering your popcorn. One moviegoer after another gets infected by the attacks until the only remaining safe place to hide seems to be the balcony. What a way to spoil a good make-out session.

Lamberto Bava directed the pic, which earned well over a billion Italian lire at the box office. That's about four dollars and 98 cents in US currency, so cash those residual checks in a hurry.

For Demons, we could drink some Casillero del Diablo wine. However "diablo" is Spanish for "devil." There is a winery in New Mexico, Vivac, which makes a rather expensive red blend called Diavolo - the Italian word we are seeking. It does have the Spanish grape Tempranillo in it, but there is also Aglianico, an Italian variety. Vivac is a good place to hang out, by the way, if you find yourself south of Taos with some time on your hands. 

The director of Demons had a family history of horror, as his father Mario Bava directed Lisa and the Devil in 1974. The elder Bava was known as the master of Italian horror, a nickname that had to be hard to live up to. Imagine you are a CPA and people went around calling you the master of Earned Income Tax Credit. You can see how quickly that might turn from an honor into a burden.

Telly Savalas and Elke Sommer star in the film, which actually had several different lives and titles. New scenes were even shot for a version which was released in an attempt to cash in on the success of The Exorcist. After The Exorcist, everybody wanted some projectile vomiting in their movie.

Lisa and the Devil is a convoluted tale involving a pretty traveler in Spain, a haunted house, a crazy matriarch, a weird butler, gaslighting, gruesome deaths and just about any other horror movie trope in existence. Reactions to the film have run the gamut from "unwatchable" to "required viewing." Let us know where you fall in on that scale.

The wine pairing here is for Patagonia's Bodega Noemia and their A Lisa Malbec, equally suitable for Noemia, Lisa and the devil.

The Exorcist III came out in 1990, written and directed by William Peter Blatty. The story follows the investigation of a serial killer who is tying in his murders with the late Father Damien Karras, the priest from The Exorcist. It's no shock that the devil from that movie is behind it all, of course, still pissed about being exorcized and looking to get even with someone - anyone. 

George C. Scott does a nice turn as the investigator and Brad Dourif plays the serial killer as someone straight from the cuckoo's nest. Praise ran hot and cold for the movie, which was a bit of a box-office flop due to the stink-bomb known as The Exorcist II. Blatty has said that he begged the studio not to name it after the previous sequel, but they did it anyway - then acted surprised when III fell over dead. 

Here's a nice devil-bashing wine pairing for you - a vino that got its name through exorcism. Italy's Scacciadiavoli Wine Estate - it literally means "cast out the devils" - was derived from a 16th century case of a girl being possessed until the priest had her drink some of the local wine. That did the trick. There was no word about how it worked on the altar boys.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Not Your Usual Dessert Wine

Chateau de Beaulon has been a family-owned estate since 1712 and is now under the direction of Christian Thomas. The gothic château itself dates back a further couple of centuries, to the era of Louis XI. 

Pineau des Charentes is a style of dessert wine made in special areas of Bordeaux. It is widely known as an aperitif, but the folks at Beaulon say that's too restrictive for the many uses of their Pineau. 

The Beaulon Pineau des Charentes Rouge, made available to me, is made from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. It was aged for five years in oak barrels. Alcohol is fortified to 19% abv and the retail price is $25, cheap for a wine of this style and quality.

They make a white version, too, from Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. The Château is also known for its cognac, made from estate-grown Folle Blanche, Colombard and Montils grapes.

This dessert wine is a deep reddish brown in color, almost a chestnut hue. The nose is aromatic and quite beautiful - brown sugar, raisins, espresso and a hint of orange peel aromas rise up from the glass. On the palate the wine is very viscous and shows distinct legs. Flavors of coffee, caramel and citrus dominate the sip. The acidity is fresh and bright, and the overall savory feel helps make this a wine that can be paired with more than just sweets.

Monday, December 12, 2022

The Darker Side Of Sherry

Bodegas Dios Baco is a Spanish sherry house dating back to 1765, with growth milestones in 1848, 1960 and 1983. The winery is owned now by José Páez Morilla, a sherry-loving businessman who purchased the property in 1992.

Baco Imperial Oloroso is a sherry which has aged for 30 years. The wine is made entirely from Palomino grapes. Alcohol hits a fortified 19.5% abv, with the retail price up close to a hundred bucks.

Oloroso is Spanish for "odorous."  Google Translate shows it as "smelly," but I think I prefer "pungent." It just hits me the wrong way to see a wine website showing a bottle with the name underneath it "Smelly."

Baco Imperial is labeled as VORS, Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum - that's Latin for "great and singular wine." You can also see it as Very Old Rare Sherry, if you have a phobia against Latin. Oloroso sherry is a style that is oxidized through many years, so you get a very complex wine as opposed to the lighter Fino style.

This is a darker white sherry - chestnut brown, in fact - and it has a wondrous nose which boasts raisins, molasses and a whiff of caramel up above the rim of the glass. The palate is savory and dry, but can we talk about the acidity? It is fresh and invigorating and lasts on the sip all the way down. I would pair this with butter cookies or something sweeter in a heartbeat. It's pretty good with a ham and cheese sandwich, too. 

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Friday, December 9, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - Biohazard!

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week's wine and cocktail pairings are for three films which require hazmat suits in the screening room. 

Virus - known in Japan as Fukkatsu No Hi - is a 1980 sci-fi from the nation that gave Godzilla to the world. This time, nature points out the folly of men via a deadly virus, created by accident in a lab. Stop me if you've heard this one before. The bug - someone dubs it the Italian Flu, but I swear Trump is not in the picture - makes other viruses more deadly by increasing their power. But, this new virus - MM88 - doesn't work in sub-zero temperatures. Looks like it's time for an Antarctica vacation.

There are a few big-name Japanese actors in the cast for Virus, alongside Glenn Ford, George Kennedy, Robert Vaughn, Chuck Connors and a raft of other stars. The film has two different endings, one for the Japanese release and one for American audiences. 

Well, Virus Vodka looks to me like a product that must have sprung up during the pandemic. If it didn't, it should have. The website for the Dallas-based company urges us to "get infected" and "spread the virus." Next they'll be suggesting bleach as a mixer. 

In 1971's The Andromeda Strain, it's an extraterrestrial organism - stowed away in a satellite that crashes to earth - that kills nearly everybody in a small town. How small a town? "Now Entering" and "Now Leaving" are on the same post. Every time a baby is born, someone else has to leave. Second Street is in the next town over. You get the idea.

Anyway, the town doctor has enough time on his hands that he can poke around on crashed satellites. He ends up with crystallized blood, which is even worse than pixelated video. The two people who survived the crash provide a clue for what quickly blossomed into a team of elite virologists - the kind of folks for whom Trump had little use. I mean, why go to science when there's plenty of fiction available? 

The labcoats get things figured out, but can they act in time to save the world? The cliffhanger ending went to waste, as no sequel ever materialized, to my knowledge. The film's special effects were masterminded by Douglas Trumball, whose work you may have gotten high with in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Andromeda Rare Wine and Whisky promises to track down anything that tickles your fancy, the rarer the better.  They are not a bargain option, and they are based in Hong Kong, but then there's always the corner liquor store if price or promptness are an issue. You might also try an Andromeda cocktail - Amaretto, Grenadine, Triple Sec and orange juice. The juice is there to help ward off illnesses caused by stray alien lifeforms.

The 1965 sci-fi The Satan Bug brings bio-terror to the front row.  The complicated story line is full of scientific intrigue, double- and triple-crosses, test tubes to end the world and some daredevil helicopter footage.  Who said laboratory work was boring?  Are these guys handling coronavirus test kits?  Wash your hands!  Wear a mask!  You can't even pick up litter off the street anymore without donning some nitrile gloves!

The movie stars George Maharis, Anne Francis, Richard Basehart and Dana Andrews. And a few actors better recognized from other performances - Frank Sutton (Gomer Pyle's Sgt. Carter), Ed Asner (MTM's crusty boss at WJM TV) and, one of my personal favorites, James Hong (every Asian professional or criminal you've ever seen on screen).

Any film which uses devil imagery in its title deserves a pairing with Velvet Devil Merlot from Charles Smith Wines.  It's from Washington state, by the way, one of the early hotspots for COVID-19.  

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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Another Bone Dry Sherry

Álvaro Domecq bought this bodega in the late 1990s, adding wine to his horse ranching empire. This Fino La Janda is one of more than a dozen wines in his line of sherries. It is made from 100% Palomino grapes, grown in Jerez, Spain.

The website in one place shows nine years of aging, then references six to seven years in another. The aging is done in American oak casks, in the solera method. Alcohol hits 15% abv and the wine retails for around $10. 

This wine has a golden yellow color and a very expressive nose. There is quite a bit of a yeasty aroma, with bread and citrus notes following. Hints of brown sugar and raisins are also present. The palate is very dry and somewhat bitter, in a good way. The taste is a savory experience, with barely a trace of the citrus fruit that appears on the nose. The acidity is fresh, almost bracing, and allows for a wide range of pairing options. 

Monday, December 5, 2022

Sherry - Dry As A Bone

I have conveyed in this space my feelings about sherry a number of times before. I love sherry. Can't get enough of it. Here is my feeling: Wine is easy. Sherry is difficult. A few of my old articles on sherry will show you how varied the styles are, and how complicated even a cursory explanation of sherry can quickly become.

Lustau makes eight different styles of sherry, from dry to sweet and creamy. They describe their Jarana Fino as "bone dry, light, mineral and yeasty." It is made from 100% Palomino grapes, in Jerez de la Frontera. That is an inland town in Spain's "Sherry Triangle" which they say has a climate that helps produce "a more rounded and fuller style of wine."

This wine was aged under a layer of yeast, called a "flor," for what appears to be about four years. The solera method of aging the wine involves mixing this year's vintage with portions of previous harvests. That makes sherry a non-vintage wine. Alcohol sits at 15% abv and a bottle of Jarana sells for less than $20. For my money, sherry is one of the biggest wine bargains in existence. You always seem to get more aromas and flavors than expected.

This fino sherry has a mineral-driven nose with notes of dried apricots a bit of yeastiness and a bit of nuttiness. The palate is bone dry, loaded with minerality and showing stone fruit and citrus, but in muted fashion. It's the minerals that take center stage. The acidity is decent, but it won't rip out your taste buds. The mouthfeel is full and round, while the finish is long and features a nutty display of - you guessed it - minerals. 

Friday, December 2, 2022

Blood Of The Vines - Still More Movies You Never Heard Of With Daniel Kremer

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌ This week, we have TFH Guru Daniel Kremer digging deep into the archives for a few cinematic nuggets you probably missed, for one reason or another.

Dear Mr. Wonderful is a 1982 film from Germany. That's Germany, not Jersey, as one might think of a movie starring Joe Pesci. His character owns a bowling alley - in, uh, Jersey - and is dreaming of catching his big break as a lounge singer in Las Vegas. Someone should tell him how much fun it is to do the 2 a.m. show downtown.

You may have missed this one through no fault of your own. The film disappeared so fast it was turning up on milk cartons. While it's not one of his more memorable outings, if you're a fan of Mr. Pesci's stylings, you’ll probably enjoy it. If you can find it.

Let's pair a German wine with this German movie. Let's get crazy and uncork Dr. Hermann’s latest Erdener Treppchen Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Goldkapsel. It's crazy because you're going to have to pick up the $800 tab for this bottle. Trockenbeerenauslese, by the way, is the way Germans call for the sweetest of the sweet Rieslings. They are even thirstier by the time they get the word out of their mouths.

From 1981 comes Kings and Desperate Men, a Canadian popcorn muncher that tells the story of terrorists taking people hostage on Christmas Eve. If you think it sounds a little bit like Die Hard, join the club. Kings writer/director/co-star Alexis Kanner thought the similarity deserved a lawsuit, which he lost. Die Hard we've seen. This one fell between the cracks.

You will want to track it down, however, if only because it stars Patrick McGoohan and Elizabeth Trudeau, who was the Prime Minister's wife at the time. Is that how to get a movie made in Canada? Just kidding, I'm sure there was an open casting call for the role. 

The film was shot in 1977, but Kanner reportedly held up the release by editing the footage for two years. There is something to be said for perfectionism, but that something is usually derisive when you cut a film for two years.

You can go all out for wine in Canada for less money than that pricey wine from Germany. An Inniskillin Cabernet Franc icewine will still run a man a Benjamin for a half-bottle - welcome to the world of icewine, vino made from grapes which were harvested while still frozen on the vines. Inniskillin's Niagara-on-the-Lake estate is home to several great icewines.

1971's Born to Win has an interesting cast: George Segal, Paula Prentiss, Karen Black, Hector Elizondo and Robert De Niro. How did he fall so far down in the credits? Oh, yeah, Mean Streets and The Godfather were still a few years down the road. 

Born To Win is set in the New York City drug world, and was shot in a serious tone. There are humorous elements which were reportedly played up during the editing process. Those rascally editors! They are so important to a film - they should start handing out awards to them. Ahem.

This black comedy got some nice reviews but missed the mark with many critics, who always seemed to find something nice to say about it right before telling us what a piece of crap it was. That's the old left-handed compliment syndrome - no offense to any southpaws who may be reading this.

For a black comedy, how about a black wine? It's really red, but it's so dark it looks black in the glass. Adventurous types can locate one from the country of Georgia, made from the Saperavi grape. Easier to find are Malbec wines from the French region of Cahors, in the southwest part of France. Château de Chambert makes a great one for just $25.

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