Showing posts with label Trailers From Hell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trailers From Hell. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Blood Of The Vines: Halloween

Here's a throwback for Halloween, from a time when I wrote a series of columns pairing wine and movies for Trailers From Hell, a really great website that all movie lovers should check out.  They are kind enough to still have some of those chestnuts digitally preserved, which you can peruse here, if you wish.

This is how the article appeared when it ran seven years ago:

The holiday season doesn't really get going until we can hear the turkeys running for their lives.  For those of us who live to pair wine with things, however, there's always a holiday just around the corner.  Groundhog Day, Bastille Day, National Cheese Day - they are all perfectly good reasons to crank out - er, craft - an article on which wines will best complement the occasion.  The annual, end-of-summer "drink that rosé before last call" columns are particular favorites of mine.  Even Texas Independence Day - oh, hell, let's not go there again.

Next on the list of official holidays is Halloween, a holiday which seems to get a lot of attention in Tinseltown.  It may well be the worst traffic day all year in Los Angeles, especially in the late afternoon and early evening when the ghosts, goblins and Lady Gagas hit the streets to grab some goodies.  A recent poll shows Halloween to be America's third favorite holiday, behind Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Trick-or-treating may be for kids, but adults give it their best shots, too, with countless parties held for the purpose of answering the door and distributing hundreds of dollars worth of packaged tooth decay.  I am assuming you're not one of those types who turns off the porch light and sits in the dark pretending you're not home.

Anyhow, Halloween is a bad night to sit in the dark.  Just ask all those people who get bumped off in John Carpenter's "Halloween."  They may be trick-or-treating outside, but on the screen it's not child's play.

TFH Guru Adam Rifkin calls "Halloween" a cinematic game changer.  After this one, just being scary wasn't enough anymore.  If Jack-O-Lanterns didn't send a shiver up your spine before this film, they surely did afterward.

The camera's focus on the Jack-O-Lantern's eye in the opening sequence sets the tone for the rest of the movie.  We're given a "killer's eye view" of the goings on that occur on that fateful October 31st.  The killer - social misfit Michael Myers - is evil enough for all the damned souls loosed upon the world for this one night each year.

Carpenter's touch with the evil he depicts is tasteful enough - the scares don't stop, but it's not really a gorefest.  That stuff really happens in the most dangerous place of all - your imagination.

Here's a smattering of tasteful - and tasty - wines and wine things that may just make your Halloween party frightfully fun:

Vampire Vineyards - This outfit has vampire-themed wines - and vodka - perfect for any occasion, but especially this one. 

Witch Creek Winery - If your broomstick can fly to San Diego, pick up some of this in Carlsbad on your way.

Graveyard Vineyards - Their Tombstone Red and Tombstone White are from Paso Robles.

Poizin Red Blend - It comes packed in a coffin.

Twisted Oak River Of Skulls Mourvedre - Calavaras County juice that's scary good.

Pumpkin Wine - Wisconsin's Three Lakes Winery sells this year-round.

Halloween "Ghost Party" Wine Glass

Jack O'Lantern Golf Resort - Oh, the screams from the first tee!  A course sure to give you the yips.  Don't get too far into the rough.  Michael Myers may be in the foursome ahead of you.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Monday, December 9, 2013

Blood Of The Vines: Wine Pairing For "Cat People"

Wine Goes to the Movies with Now And Zin and Trailers From Hell

A man marries a woman who is afraid she will become a killer cat if she has sex with her husband.  That's right, she thinks if she lets herself become a panter, she'll turn into a panther.  Maybe a few glasses of wine would mellow her out, but this wasn't what the guy was thinking when he coined the "lady in the parlor, tiger in the bedroom" metaphor.

Okay, so, way back in the forties we have this very good reason to live together before marriage.  We also have "I've got a headache" taken to an extreme.  I wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley - or any dark area, for that matter.

"Cat People" - the 1942 original, in glorious and shadowy black and white - was shrugged off as a cheap horror flick by critics of the day, but since then they have started calling it a "smart little drama," after a few glasses of wine, no doubt.

I’m not a cat person, and when I think of cat people, I think of that crazy lady down the street who has about 27 of them living in her one-room apartment.  Come to think of it, I wouldn’t want to meet HER in a dark alley, either.  Let’s pair some wine with “Cat People.”

Napa Valley's Black Cat Vineyard quotes Mark Twain: “If man would be crossed with a cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”  Try their Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon.  Then you'll be one of the Cab People.  Meow!

Get your claws on these:

Panther Creek Cellars - This Oregon producer has more Pinot Noirs that a cat has lives.

Hazlitt 1852 Red Cat - It should be a black cat, but this one is not afraid of water, at least in a hot tub.

Hello Kitty Wine - You had to see this one coming.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blood Of The Vines: The Nutty Professor

Blood Of The Vines: The Nutty Professor

Wine goes to the movies with 

Good and evil are depicted to some degree in almost every movie.  I tend to view any character drinking wine as “good,” which leads to some confusion when screening “Rosemary’s Baby.”

In “The Nutty Professor,” Jerry Lewis portrays both good and evil in his dual role as the goofy chemistry prof and his suave, slick alter-ego.  Lewis has stated that the characters represent both sides of the good/evil coin, a coin I received in change at Whole Foods the other day.  President Lincoln is heads, while tails shows Honest Abe mooning us through the columns of the Lincoln Memorial.

Observers have speculated that Lewis patterned Buddy Love after his former partner Dean Martin, but the Clown Prince of France says that was not the case.  He has expressed regret for not making the Love character more overtly evil.  It seems most of the fan mail went to B. Love, not J. Kelp.

While perusing the notion of Jerry Lewis as Jekyll and Hyde, the question arises: What kinds of wine would Julius Kelp and Buddy Love drink?  At least it arises for me, a few more times a day than I’d like to admit.

Kelp - the hapless nerd - probably knows either too little or too much about wine, just like in real life.  Most folks who know just enough about wine seem boring to those at the low end of the spectrum and dimwitted to the other side.

Love - the cool hipster - would probably drink Champagne from a little-known artisan grower, if he drank wine at all.  In the film, Love orders a drink like this: “two shots of vodka, a little rum, some bitters, a smidgen of vinegar, a shot of vermouth, a shot of gin, a little brandy, a lemon peel, orange peel, cherry, some more scotch.”  Paraphrasing the bartender, you can either drink it or take it home and rub it on your chest.

Lewis has brought “The Nutty Professor” to the stage, off-Broadway.  How far off?  Try Tennessee.  It’s the last stage musical completed by Marvin Hamlisch before his death in August 2012 and there are hopes it will make it to The Big Apple.

A natural wine pairing for “The Nutty Professor” is Hugh Hamilton’s Jekyll and Hyde Shiraz Viognier.  The McLaren Vale producer says the wine is co-fermented, both disparate grapes picked and fermented together rather than being blended after separate fermentation.  This is how they prevent unwanted hair growth after consumption.  (You didn’t believe that last part, did you?)

More nutty choices:

Jekel Vineyards - This Monterey County producer has Riesling for the hipster in you, Merlot for that other side.

Hyde Vineyards - In Napa Valley’s Carneros section, this vineyard provides grapes to a number of stellar winemakers.  They don’t have cherries, orange peel, vermouth or scotch.

Jerry Lewis’ Pinot Noir - Sold by an animal shelter in Wisconsin, if this Chilean Pinot has any connection with Jerry Lewis beyond his name on the label, it’s well hidden.

Jekyll and Hyde Coffee and Wine Bar - So which is which?  Before the triple espresso, and after?

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: Bride of Frankenstein

Wine Goes to the Movies with 

In "Bride of Frankenstein," the monster speaks.  The monster also eats, drinks and has a smoke afterward.

Presumed consumed by flames in the original movie, the monster survived the windmill fire by getting into the water well underneath the mill.  When he finally comes out after that harrowing experience, he falls in with a blind guy who teaches him to talk.  The first things he wants to talk about are food and wine.  Get that monster a twitter account!

"Bread #good.  Drink #good.  The service in this drafty old castle - #baaaad."  Conversant for ten minutes, and he's already a Yelper.

The monster's conversion from good-natured Halloween trick into snarky micro-blogger is helped along by Dr. Pretorius, or as I like to call him, Dr. Enabler.  Herr Doktor fills him full of rich food and German wine.  For dessert, he satisfies his jones for a fine cigar.  It's a little tough getting him past the lighting of it - "Aaarrgh! #Fire #baaaaad" - but once he gets to puffing, he settles into his new hedonistic lifestyle quickly.

Dr. Enabler also creates some female companionship for him, although she doesn't take well to being pimped out as monster-escort.  "She pretty, but scream #toomuch."

But in the end, when catastrophe surrounds the monster again, not even the promise of alcohol, tobacco and chicks can make him feel that life is worth living.  "Go - you live'" he says to Dr. Frankenstein.  Dr. Enabler is told, "You, stay.  We belong dead."  The bad doctor shouldn't have tried to slip a flagon of Two-Buck Chuck past a monster who knows which end of the bottle has a cork in it.

I wish I could recommend Frankenstein Wine for this movie, since the company - based in Germansville, Pennsylvania - boasts of wine for both the monster and the bride.  However, the website still says it's "coming in 2011."  Hello, Dr. Webmaster.

I've leaned on this trick before, but it's worth a repeat.  Wine made near the site of the actual Frankenstein castle, in the Franken wine region of Pfalz.  The Hans Wirsching 2010 Iphofer Kronsberg Silvaner Trocken comes in a "Mateus"-shaped bottle known as a bocksbeutel.  It's the traditional bottling of the Franken region.  This product of Silvaner grapes is dry and bold, with a crisp minerality.  You may want to try pairing it with torch-toasted marshmallows.  It's only $16 - affordable enough for a little Dr. Frankenstein experimentation.

What's in that bottle, doctor?

Meeker Vineyards Barberian 2007 - This Geyserville product has "big aromas and huge flavors," and it's said to pair well with the monster's favorite dishes.

Frankenstein glass - Drink from it, or put a candle in it.  Maybe both.  There's an endless supply of this sort of thing on Etsy.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: Double Indemnity

Wine Goes to the Movies
with Now And Zin and Trailers From Hell

An encore presentation of the wine pairing for "Double Indemnity."

The heat’s killing me. Just the short walk down to that crummy wine bar in Hollywood has soaked my shirt through.  It's not a good look for a pool boy, much less a hard-boiled insurance man.  Sometimes it's hard to to tell us apart.

I remember when I could walk down the street and get liquor.  I could get liquored up, if I wanted.  Now, wine bars all over Hollywood.  Even in Los Feliz.  One good thing about wine bars: you'll always find plenty of slick dames hanging around in them.  None like her, though.  None like Phyllis Dietrichson.  Nobody can touch her, or that honey of an anklet she wore.  Well, almost nobody.

Something was hinky about that Los Feliz iced tea she gave me.  I asked if she had a bottle of beer that wasn't working, but I guess they were all busy.  At my place, I thought she should have had some of that pink wine.  The kind that bubbles.  All I had was bourbon.  Bourbon was enough for Phyllis.

The room started spinning and I dreamed I slipped out of character and headed up to MacMurray Ranch.  It's in the Russian River Valley, prettiest place you ever saw.  I bought it in '41, as a getaway from troubles just like this.  After I'm done here, they'll probably sell the cattle and plant grapes.  Maybe avocados.  No, grapes.  The better for making wine.  Wine, to sell in wine bars to an everyman like me, Walter Neff.  Wine, to be lifted as a toast to a slick dame like Phyllis.  A slick dame like Phyllis who can have her way with a guy like Walter Neff.

How could I have known what kind of poison she was?  How could I have known that anklet she wore was like a sign saying "Bad dog - keep away."  How could I have known wine bars would ever become so popular?  How could I have known something so sweet, rich and powerful could go so bad?
How could I have known that murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle?

Blood Of The Vines suggests pairing "Double Indemnity" with the 2009 MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley.  It features earthy cherry flavors - rich, sweet and powerful.  It retails for $35.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: Arsenic and Old Lace

Wine Goes To The Movies 
with Now And Zin and Trailers From Hell

An encore presentation of the wine pairing for "Arsenic and Old Lace."

Pairing wine with certain movies requires a leap of faith. How would you really feel having fava beans and Chianti while watching "Silence Of The Lambs"?  "Arsenic And Old Lace" presents a similar difficulty.

Frank Capra's film rendition of "Arsenic And Old Lace" stars Cary Grant as a newlywed who discovers his two sweet, old aunts are inviting old men to their home and offering them elderberry wine dosed with poison.

They do this as a sort of public service.  They figure the old guys had nothing to live for, so they give them a little push toward everlasting peace.  So, two sweet, little old ladies are revealed to be murderers.  Sweet, little, old murderers, but murderers nonetheless.  It’s a dark comedy with plenty of laughs.

While noodling around on the internet - we call that "research" - I found an interesting wine factoid about Cary Grant.  Supposedly, Grant once beat Winston Churchill in a wine tasting contest!  The score was evened later when Churchill beat Grant at cigar tasting.  Is it true?  Who knows?  It was on the internet.  But I like to think it's true.

You can "pick your poison" for "Arsenic And Old Lace," but how could you resist pairing it with elderberry wine?  Manischewitz offers an elderberry wine that's easy to find and keeps the cost of date night down - it's less than $5 a bottle.  It's a very sweet wine, just like those little old ladies.

The trouble is, it's not really elderberry wine.  It's made from grapes with some flavoring added.  Not so bad, considering what's being added to the wine in the movie.

You can make your own elderberry wine, or have someone you really trust make it for you.  Just don't use the recipe given in the movie, which calls for "one teaspoon full of arsenic, half a teaspoon full of strychnine, and then just a pinch of cyanide."

Whatever wine you choose for Arsenic And Old Lace, we recommend opening the bottle and pouring in plain view of all present.  We want the only "funny stuff" to be that which is in the movie.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: The Godfather

Wine Goes To The Movies 

An encore presentation of the wine pairing for "The Godfather."

What kind of wine would Don Corleone drink? 

When that question came to mind, I turned to the one and only source for factual information - the internet.  I found that someone had already been curious about that topic, and had asked Yahoo Answers the very same question.  There was a scant response to the question - c'mon people, it's the internet!  Have an opinion! - and a few choices were tossed out there, including Valpolicella, Chianti and Amarone.  Good choices, but let's be sure before we view The Godfather

Brando's Corleone does say in the movie that in his advancing years he likes drinking wine more than he used to.  To which his son Michael replies "It's good for ya pop!"  

The Don might like a Moscato out in the garden when he's sticking an orange peel in his mouth, but it's hard to imagine The Godfather as a white wine kind of guy.  

The fact that Corleone is Sicilian might suggest we look to some of the wines that volcanic island is known for.  Dessert wine is a possibility.  Sweet wines often pair well with their opposites, and The Don certainly seems to be the opposite of sweet.  The Godfather might use Marsala to cook with, if he cooked, but he wouldn't drink it. 

Chianti?  He likes canellinni beans, not fava beans.  Anyway, that's a different movie.  Some have suggested to me that Corleone might enjoy a Barolo.  That’s not a bad suggestion, but the Nebbiolo grape is primarily from the northern part of Italy, not Sicily.  Also, Barolo is considered a strong and forceful wine.  The Godfather might tend to look at anything with a jaundiced eye if he felt it might threaten his power and standing - especially if it was from another neighborhood.  

Corleone would probably like a nice Nero d'Avola, a hearty red wine that's full-bodied - like the Don - and usually not blended, but allowed to stand on its own two feet, like a man.  Corleone would love that stance, even though he preferred to have others dependent upon him.  The grape actually comes from Avola, which is on the other side of Sicily from the Don's birthplace of Corleone.  Is there, however, a winemaker in Avola who would deny The Godfather a bottle of his finest?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: The Raven

Wine Goes to the Movies 

This is a repeat of the first Blood Of The Vines column.

When the gurus at Trailers From Hell asked me to make wine pairing suggestions for some of the movies whose trailers are featured on the site, I lunged at the chance like a 3-D monster.

Some people find selecting a wine to be a scary proposition, like "Bucket Of Blood."  I, on the other hand, don’t feel it’s even as scary as "Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein."

The reality of it is, it's kind of hard to screw up a wine recommendation for a movie. I mean, how hard is this?  Get movie.  Get wine.  Proceed.  You're probably in the comfort and privacy of your own home, so you don't even have to get dressy.  You don't even have to get dressed.

In this initial offering, I'll suggest a pairing for the 1963 Roger Corman classic "The Raven," in which Edgar Allan Poe is played for laughs with Peter Lorre wearing a bird outfit and starring the great Vincent Price.

Vincent Price was quite the wine lover himself, which makes you wonder how Sun Country Wine Coolers managed to get him into a polar bear outfit for their 1985 TV ad.  Oh, yeah... it was the money!  Much truer to form is the wine tasting scene from "Tales Of Terror," which also happens to feature Mr. Price and Mr. Lorre.  There's also the spoken word record album Price did in 1977 for California's Wine Institute, in which he shills - ever so eloquently - for “California Burgundy.”

The wine recommendation for "The Raven" is... "The Raven!"  It’s a dense and dark Syrah from Ventura's Sine Qua Non winery.  They make “A-list” wine.  The Raven will set you back a couple of Benjamins for a bottle, if you can find it.  It'll sure add a lot to your movie night experience, though.

The blend of Syrah, Grenache and a little bit of Viognier is dark purple with a nose - should we say beak? - featuring graphite, charcoal, licorice and tar, with silky blackberry fruit on the palate.  Is that Raven enough for you?

I feel that Vincent Price would approve.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

Wine Goes to the Movies with 
Now And Zin and Trailers From Hell

Sitting around drinking squid ink was never even a consideration for me, but the dinner table scene in "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" shows a few wine glasses.  Given Captain Nemo's love of harvesting only from the ocean, I would love to know where the sea grapes grow.  That would take oceanic influence to a whole new level.

Animation was Disney's only special effect until "20,000 Leagues..." came around.  Well, that and Thurl Ravenscroft’s voice.  The Magic Kingdom's first foray into live action spent its over-budget effects money wisely.  The giant squid is superb; but even though he has eight arms, he has no lines.  He’d look good cut into pieces and deep fried, with a side of marinara sauce and some Sangiovese, or Alto Adige Riesling.

Kirk Douglas looks like he might have been working out at Nautilus, not riding around the world in one.  His character, Ned Land, is one of those over-the-top rowdy guys of which Disney never tired.  Annoying sea shanties, poor table manners and an irrepressible urge to do the wrong thing at the wrong time are all qualities that keep the wheels turning in a Disney film.  It's no shock to find him getting drunk in one scene, and even less of one to see him fall asleep with the sort of look on his face that a drunk can have only in a Disney movie.

James Mason and Peter Lorre's voices always make me think of Ed Sullivan, who featured an impressionist each week on his show offering his turn on both.  And Lorre plays his faithful servant role for some pretty good laughs.  He looks like he expects to be pistol whipped by Humphrey Bogart at any moment.

I couldn’t find any underwater wine to pair with “20,000 Leagues...” - Nemo took the secret of that undersea vineyard to his grave - but the Nautilus does make a pass near New Zealand, where today Nautilus wine is found.  Their Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay are good choices to pair with calamari - giant or not.

Sea if these float your boat:

Holus Bolus Wine - This Lompoc winery has an octopus label adorning several Santa Barbara County Syrahs as well as a Roussanne, in case you can't decide whether to have red or white with your cephalopod.

Eight Arms Cellars - A one man operation in Berkeley - that man wishes he had 8 arms with which to get all his work done.  Nemo wished he were similarly equipped to keep Kirk Douglas under control.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: His Girl Friday

Wine Goes To The Movies with 

Cary Grant has tussled with wine on the silver screen in “Arsenic and Old Lace” and “Notorious,” to name a couple.  But whenever I see Cary Grant in a movie, it always seems to me that he should be holding a glass of something elegant.  Even as a fast-talking newspaperman in “His Girl Friday,” he looks incomplete without a drink.

If you’ve ever tried to hire back someone you had already fired, you get an idea of the job Grant has before him.  His ex-wife and former employee at the newspaper doesn’t want a Continuation of Benefits package.  In fact, she’s set to marry another man, a guy who looks like “that guy in the movies, what’s his name, Ralph Bellamy.”

Elegance has a hard time gaining a foothold in a newspaper office.  The newspapermen - and women - I’ve known have been elegant enough to hide a hip flask in their desks.  They also received shipments of their personal pornography at work and bills with nasty notes written on them indicating that payment may have been a tad slow in coming.  Only a newspaperman could devise an elaborate code for phrases spoken in the crudest language imaginable.

Cary Grant is the polar opposite, even while stopping at nothing to get his ex back on the team.  He uses the hallmark phrase, “Anytime, anyplace, anywhere” to describe how he still feels about his ex-wife, Hildy.  That’s a novel approach to divorce, even in 1940.  Isn’t it usually, “never, nowhere, no way?”

At lunch it’s Hildy, her ex-husband and her groom-to-be.  That’s a cozy table.  You’d think there would be some drink orders in that situation, but the waiter just pours three waters.  At least he has the decency to offer to put rum in the coffee, and they have the decency to accept.

Rosalind Russell, as Hildy, has her trademark patter running in high gear.  Her street-smart elegance is a word-for-word match with Grant’s.  She may not be a Pulitzer prize winner, but “she’ll do till one comes along.”

Bedford Winery Cabernet Sauvignon makes a nice match for “His Girl Friday.”  From the winery’s notes: “Rich... impeccably well-mannered, everything in its proper place.”  No wonder they call it the Cary Grant of Cabernets.

Fridays Creek Winery - It’s in Maryland, so good luck getting your hands on that Seyval Blanc if you're not an East Coaster.

How can you go wrong with a Rosalind Russell?  Bartender, it's a tasty little recipe involving Aquavit and sweet vermouth.  Cheers!

The Cary Grant Cocktail Lounge - A webpage that promises much and, unfortunately, delivers little.

Wine and Newspaper Gift Box - One of the more unusual gift ideas.  The wine, I get.  But a newspaper?  It doesn’t add much value to the package.  Hopefully it’s delivered by a wine delivery guy, not the paperboy.  That wine bottle won’t survive the toss from the street.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: Caddyshack

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Golfers love wine - after they are done golfing.  While they are golfing, it’s beer.  Those inconsiderate showoffs who can shoot in the 80s probably guzzle Gatorade, or Red Bull or something called “water.”  Who cares what those inconsiderate showoffs drink, though?

Golfers love "Caddyshack," too.  Even non-golfers love "Caddyshack," but let's stay on the course.  I was a golfer myself, once upon a time.  I found that the "good walk spoilt" sentiment from Samuel Clemens was too true for me to continue.  Reaching into the cooler on the golf cart was a lot more fun than reaching into my bag for a club.  I tried carrying my bag, but if I'm to enjoy a walk in the grass, I don't need a hundred pounds of clubs on my shoulder.  Especially when I only use three of them.

And, to me, a walk in the grass is seriously undermined by having to watch out that I'm not knocked unconscious by errant golf balls flying from other parts of the grass over to mine.  I do love the lingo - "your honors," "sliced," "hooked" and "in jail."  That last description - of being among too many trees to possibly hit the ball out safely - was one I used all too frequently.  It's one of the reasons I am no longer a golfer.

The first time I took my wife to a driving range - at her request, by the way - she was lining up what was to have been a mighty 75 yard drive.  Then, she looked up at the person in the next stall and turned to me with a look of astonishment.  It was O.J. Simpson.  "He really IS searching for the killer on golf courses!"  I don't think practice swings were the same for either of us after that.

As for me, my drives wouldn't drive, my chips wouldn't chip and my putts puttered out.  But enough about me.  Let's get to Bill Murray.

Murray's character - assistant greenskeeper Carl Spackler - is dim-witted and of the opinion he's a good golfer.  Those are two qualities that go together like a golf cart and a cooler of beer.  His efforts at eliminating the destructive gopher - with extreme prejudice and a lot of plastic explosives - leave the country club course looking like a nine-hole track in Palm Springs in the middle of August.

Murray's lines in the "Cinderella story" scene are said to be completely improvised.  Taking practice shots on the flowers were his idea, too.  Pairing a wine with “Caddyshack” is my job.

Canadian golfer Mike Weir owns a wine estate in the Niagara region.  A Masters champion would have ice wine running through his veins.  By the way, Weir also uses his line of wines to raise money for the Mike Weir Foundation, a charity that assists children in physical, emotional or financial need.

Other golfers with a drive for wine:

Greg Norman - The golfer known as The Shark makes a whale of good wine, be it California or Australia.

Ernie Els -  The South African golfer naturally chose the burgeoning wine region in his homeland as the base for his wines.

Nick Faldo - Australian wine from the Coonawarra region, for when you run out of Foster’s.

Luke Donald - Terlato does his Napa wines, the same outfit that fashions high end wine with Mike Ditka's name on it.

Jack Nicklaus - Terlato also handles the wine action for the Golden Bear.

Arnold Palmer - Napa Valley’s Luna Vineyards makes wine for the guy who has an iced tea drink named after him.

Annika Sorenstam - Lest we forget the LPGA, this golf wine comes from Wente Vineyards in California's Livermore Valley.  Annika shoots in the 70s; her Chardonnay shot a 92 in Wine Spectator.

Callaway Golf Balls - I’ve always thought Callaway’s golf balls were better than their wines.  At $39, they’re more expensive, too.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House

Wine Goes To The Movies with 

I’ll bet if a poll were taken to determine which movie star would be the most popular companion for drinks, it would be Cary Grant.  Maybe Ray Milland.  Maybe I should go to the internet and find the conclusive answer.

Thanks for waiting.  It didn’t take long.  You know how fast that internet is.  A poll showing which celebrity is the people's choice to spend time with had Ted Nugent holding a slight edge over Anthony Bourdain, and “Storage Wars” star Barry Weiss close behind.  So, I guess there’s a pretty big difference between “movie stars” and “celebrities” these days.  Of course, being alive may make it easier to score well in those polls.  I’m sure breathing and bowhunting are all Ted Nugent has on Cary Grant.  I’ll keep looking, though.  If Mr. Grant turns up, I’ll let you know.

He does more than turn up in “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.”  In fact, the whole film is nothing less than a textbook on how to make a movie funny.  If I were to ask you “What’s the key element in comedy,” and you were to reply, “Timing,” that’s not comedy.  If you were to interrupt me after the word “element” and say “Timing,” that’s comedy.  The timing is the thing.  One joke can’t get out of the way fast enough to let the next one through.  Having a drink for each punchline is out of the question.  That’s an interactive game that’ll have you knee-walking before the second reel.

It’s Myrna Loy that steals the show, with the incredible monologue in which she describes colors to the paint crew.

Muriel Blandings:  “I want it to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin's egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don't let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green. Now, the dining room. I'd like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshine-y. I tell you, Mr. PeDelford, if you'll send one of your men to the grocer for a pound of their best butter, and match that exactly, you can't go wrong! Now, this is the paper we're going to use in the hall. It's flowered, but I don't want the ceiling to match any of the colors of the flowers. There's some little dots in the background, and it's these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom. Is that clear? Now the kitchen is to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic hospital white. A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now for the powder room - in here - I want you to match this thread, and don't lose it. It's the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it! As you can see, it's practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy winesap and an unripened Jonathan.”
Mr. PeDelford: “You got that Charlie?”
Charlie the Painter: “Red, green, blue, yellow, white.”

The wine pairing for such a movie is not easily pronounced.  You want something zippy enough to keep up with the dialogue, but not so zippy that it races past the action.  It should be a wine that has some depth to it, but not so complex that it takes one’s mind off the show and forces a moody rumination.  Too simple, and you’re cooked as well.  It should sort of drive right down the middle of Complexity Avenue.  As for a red or white, or even pink, the movie is in black and white so it doesn’t really matter.  Don’t take that to mean the wine doesn’t matter - of course it does.  It simply doesn’t matter if it’s red or white.  Or even pink. It should be an eminently pairable wine, in case snacks are served while viewing.  And who knows what they’ll bring, so it should go with everything.  As for flavor, that spot between the winesap and the unripened Jonathan apple sounds just right to me.

You got that, Charlie?


And if you do want a snack with this movie, take Gussie’s advice: “If you ain't eatin' Wham, you ain't eatin' ham.”

Build a night around these choices:

Tin House Wine - Central Coast wines from Edna Valley and Santa Maria, they focus on Pinot Noir and Syrah.  Priced at $18-$25.

Big House Wines - We’re stretching the house theme a bit here.  The Big House referred to in the name is actually Soledad State Correctional Facility.

Sutter Home Family Vineyards - This winery has been home to White Zinfandel since they invented it.  Let’s try not to hold a grudge.

Maison Red - Washington State’s Wilridge Winery sells wine in bottles you can refill and take home.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: Cool Hand Luke

Wine Goes to the Movies 

As we inch our way toward autumn, wine lovers turn their thoughts to harvest time.  Visions of grape pickers working the vineyards fill our heads, lovingly fondling each cluster of Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon before gently plucking it from the vine and sending it on its way to the sorting table.

At the beginning of "Cool Hand Luke," Paul Newman's character is drunk and lovingly pruning the head from a parking meter.  Two things you should never say to a policeman: “Hold my beer” and “Are you the guy from the Village People?”

As a result of his ill-advised adventure, Newman gets to join a group of men working in the fields.  They don't get paid even a low wage.   They work in chains and are watched over by a prison guard with mean sunglasses and a shotgun.  At a regular job, he’d be called mid-management.  Where's our shop steward?

These days, a lot of grape picking occurs at night.  Tractors with enough light banks to illuminate a ballpark make it easy for the harvesters to work when it’s cool.  It sounds very kind-hearted, until you realize it’s done that way for the benefit of the grapes, not the pickers.

I'm thinking it's jailbreak time - make a run for the nearest wine tasting event and hang out near the media.   In your dirty, sweaty, tattered rags, you'll blend right in.   But remember to sip, swirl and spit - otherwise, what we have here is... failure to expectorate.

I once worked for a guy who reminded me so much of Strother Martin that it was creepy.   We made many jokes that played off the “failure to communicate” line.   I was always ready to turn in my notice at the first sight of a new hire with badass sunglasses.

Paul Newman’s chain gang had to work all morning, into the blazing midday and right through the blistering afternoon.  A fella could really use a cool, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc after a day like that.  Or at least a Budweiser.   In prison, bread and water will have to do.  Come to think of it, I prefer water to Budweiser.

The prisoners in “Cool Hand Luke” live in eight by ten foot cells.  At work, you get a six by eight cubicle.   Good behavior in prison gets you time off.  On the job it gets you more work.  In prison, Luke is hanging around so many felons, he thought he was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The wine pairing for “Cool Hand Luke” is so easy, even Dragline could have thought of it.  Newman’s Own Wine offers a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon - all tasting great and benefitting charities.

The Prisoner - Predominantly Zinfandel, with a chain gang of other grapes mixed in, this Dave Phinney favorite is one to take with you if you’re going away for a long time.

Communication Block Wine - A Mt. Veeder red blend from Lampyridae Vineyards, this wine is a benefit, too.   It helps kids who depend on technology for communication..

Keel and Curley Florida Blueberry Wine - Don’t make that Jägermeister face.  They make it sweet or dry.   And it’s really good.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: Poultrygeist

Pairing wine with chicken is easy. With all the apps available for the purpose of food and wine pairing, it's - as the Rolling Stones might have sung with a more digital upbringing - just a click away. Or, in this case, just a cluck away.

Of course, we could go right to the top for a pairing with Poultrygeist. The Court of Master Sommeliers recommends Pinot Noir, Gamay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and of course, Riesling, with chicken. But then, the Court of Master Sommeliers recommends Riesling with everything.

Not that the Court would appreciate being dragged into this fray. After all, it's not just chicken with which we're pairing, but killer chickens. Chickens that turn the table on man and scratch out a sign saying, "Eat Mor Peepul."

"Poultrygeist" - subtitled "The Night of the Chicken Dead," takes nothing seriously, so neither will we. You can feel free to stop now and drink whatever you like while watching this film. Of course, that means you'll miss all the cheap chicken wine links later, so just keep scrolling.

As in "Poultergeist," this movie involves the invasion of a sacred burial ground. In this case, a fast food franchise moves in on the memorialized dead. What erupts afterward - and erupts is the right word - is nothing for the squeamish. If you really are having coq au vin with this movie, you've got a stronger constitution that I have, and that's saying a lot.

Lloyd Kaufman, the man behind the movie, says if there's a more graphic depiction of explosive diarrhea than the one in this film, even he doesn't want to see it. The sight of big chickens exacting their revenge on the employees of this eatery is played for the bloodiest kind of humor. It's a chicken dinner in reverse, with the meat served very rare.

After reviewing the previous paragraphs, I am struck that I have managed to sully the good name of the Court of Master Sommeliers, that I have ended a career-long avoidance of the term “explosive diarrhea” and that I have implied that Riesling goes with everything. I’ll take my punishment - a week of drinking only wines that have chickens on the label. We’ll start here:

Rex Goliath Wines are represented by a big ol’ fightin’ rooster. That’s either a wrestling championship belt he’s wearing, or a collection of war medals bought in a thrift shop. The wines are all sourced from that exclusive appellation known as “California,” which is located just west of “the rest of the world.” You won’t be branded a wine snob when you plop a magnum of this down on the coffee table. Best of all, it’s really cheap.

Robert Biale Vineyards makes a Black Chicken Zinfandel. For the other dark meat, no doubt. At $42 a bottle, you want it to be great. At least, you want to be able to disregard the “watch out for black chicken” sign.

Chicken Killer Barley Wine - As they say in Texas, sometimes a chicken just needs killin’. Here’s the 10% beer that’ll do the trick.

Rooster Hill Vineyards - From New York’s Finger Lakes, where chicken not only have lips, they have fingers, too.

Psychedelic Rooster Barbera - This is serious Lodi wine. You don’t want to tangle with a psychedelic rooster.

Soaring Rooster - It combines two of the worst trends in wine: the critter label and the cartoon label. Are things so bad up in Washington State that you have to resort to this?

Le Drunk Rooster - More critter cartoon labeling, and this time from France, tsk-tsk. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: Robinson Crusoe On Mars

Wine Goes To The Movies

The Curiosity rover has begun snooping about for evidence of life on Mars.  I’ll be watching those pictures closely for evidence of wine on Mars.  Paul Mantee’s character in Robinson Crusoe on Mars could have used a little martian vino, be it red or white.

Had Daniel Defoe’s earthbound Crusoe known he would be marooned for 28 years, he might have tried making some wine - if only for sacramental purposes.  The 18th-century Crusoe got religion by reading the Bible while stranded.  Imagine what he could have accomplished, inspired by a couple of issues of Wine Spectator.

Hollywood’s version of the desert island is Mars in the 1964 film billed as “scientifically authentic.”  That must have referred to the Technicolor process, because little else seems to be very realistic.  TFH says the movie does borrow effects from “War of the Worlds” and “Destination Moon,” and the presentation is 1964-moderne, if not exactly ripped from the pages of NASA handbooks.

You have to wonder what kind of space agency decides it’s a good idea to send a manned mission to Mars with a dangerous wild animal on board.  In case you’ve never had a close encounter of the simian kind before - yes, monkeys are wild.  And yes, they are dangerous.  They didn’t have wine on the ship, but that ape looks to me like he’s been sneaking a nip here and there.  Like the original Crusoe, Mantee seems to be stuck with some horrifically inadequate companionship.  At least until Friday, the intergalactic slave, shows up.  Good thing he’s a quick learner when it comes to picking up language from another world.

If you tour the vineyards of the Canary Islands, you may think you’re about to find wine on Mars.  On Lanzarote, they grow their grapes in little lava craters to help protect them from the wind.  On the Greek island of Santorini, they wrap their grapevines into little baskets, for the same purpose.  Both methods produce a weird effect that looks otherworldly - particularly in Lanzarote’s volcanic ash.

Here’s to life on Mars, and wine on Mars, for that matter.  Just like fires in zero atmosphere and monkeys in space suits, it’s “scientifically authentic.”

For that long-awaited sip of wine for Robinson Crusoe on Mars, where else to start but at Martian Vineyard.  They aren’t on Mars, but they are in Los Alamos - which is close.  They’ve been conducting experiments on Albariño, Grenache Blanc and Grenache that have turned out extremely well.  They also captured a Santa Ynez Viognier and have already taught it to speak English.  The prices aren’t in the stratosphere for wines like UFOric, Mothership, Down To Earth and Ground Central: $20 to $25 range.

Domaine Font-Mars - Bordeaux wine from Mars, here on earth.

White Rocket Wines - An experiment by the late Jess Jackson that didn’t exactly lift off.

Red Rover Wines - If you don’t monkey around with any #$@%& Merlot, they also have Barbera and Chardonnay.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: Them!

Wine Goes To The Movies

When I first saw the classic sci-fi movie, "Them!," I didn't know the meaning of needing a drink.  Today, I do.  It's a wonder this film didn't make me seek out my parents' wine stash years earlier than I eventually did.  Water Is Never Enough.

The trailer blazes the words: Terror - Horror - Excitement - Mystery - THEM!  Never has an acronym so accurately described its subject.  "Them" was the first giant insect movie, and still stands as the best.  TFH guru Joe Dante credits this movie with scaring the preteen crap out of him, and he's not alone.

Not only did "Them" feature giant mutant ants as a necessary byproduct of the nuclear age, it also featured building-mounted bullhorns from which the populace could be warned to stay inside.  We had civil defense sirens where I grew up, but I always wondered what town those bullhorns were in, and what problem they were expecting that prompted their installation.  Giant mutant insects, no doubt.

In the coastal community in which I was raised, giant mutant crabs might have been expected, or something related to the oil industry that ruled my early years.  “We Oil the World,” cried the city dads from every billboard and official vehicle.  “Crabbing, too!”  I always wondered about the wisdom of advertising crabbing as a great tourist attraction in an area known for petroleum refineries.  That was years before people became alarmed at mercury in tuna.  Giant mutant crabs would have been a welcome addition to the seafood buffet in my hometown.  "Djya see thuh size uh them thangs?  And only $10.95!"

Pairing a wine with insects is tricky.  The apps on my iPhone that offer to pair wine with food don't cover pairing with insects - for some reason.  I'm guessing a white wine with a lot of acidity would work well, unless the insects are chocolate covered.  Try a Port, in that case.  Maybe for "Them" we could borrow a page from Monty Python and choose a wine that's good for hand-to-hand combat.

Or we could go to Anthill Farms Winery of Healdsburg.  Their Campbell Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir is from the Sonoma Coast town of Annapolis (oh, if it had only been ANT-apolis!)  The cool, coastal conditions there are great for growing Pinot Noir grapes, and for keeping away giant mutant ants.

Ant Moore Wine - New Zealand winemaker of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling.  Goes great with ants

A wine ant, the obligatory wine chotzke.

Import A-N-T Wines - This is a wine sales outfit which can’t sell to the public.  Why advertise?  Alcohol laws in the U.S. are certainly intriguing.  The name seems to be more of a stretch than even I usually go to for the wine pairing.

White Ant Wine - Q:  “How many ants does it take to make a bottle of wine?” A: It depends on how much beer you give them.  Believe me, winemakers are laughing their asses off at that one.  And the website: “Connecting buyers with China suppliers?” Is someone having trouble finding Chinese-made products?  May I direct you to … uh … everywhere?

Ant control with wine vinegar - Personally, I’m more fascinated with the idea that grits kill ants.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: The Howling

Wine Goes To The Movies

For the dog days of summer, what could be better than a movie with some canine teeth?  And some claws.  And a loud bark.  And a nice wine for a dog day afternoon.

The Howling” is a great 1980s werewolf film - there were a few of them back in the day.  This one boasts TFH head guru Joe Dante directing a screenplay by John Sayles - not to mention the likes of Patrick Macnee, Slim Pickens, John Carradine and Kevin McCarthy onscreen.  I’m in.

First of all, save your silver bullets.  Do you know how much ordinary stuff can kill a dog?  Wine is right up there - or any alcoholic beverage.  But how about milk?  That’s bad for Fido, too.  Chocolate, also not so good for Rover.  Nor are avocados, persimmons, eggs, fish, salt, sugar, yeast or macadamia nuts.  It looks like the only thing dogs can safely eat are Bonz.  So why so much trouble killing werewolves?  Can’t we just send them to a buffet?

While swirling my Cru Vin Dogs red blend, I take offense when one of the characters in “The Howling” says, “You’re from Los Angeles. The wildest thing you’ve ever heard is Wolfman Jack.”  Hey, writer, if you think wild sounds don’t happen in Los Angeles, I wish upon you every next door neighbor I’ve ever had.  Have you never been rolled out of bed by dueling garbage trucks at 7:00?  I didn’t think real people worked that early - just people who have to do things like get the news ready for you.

If you’ve never seen a newsperson turn into a werewolf, you’re missing a treat.  Oh, yeah, I’ve been around some newsrooms in my time.  TV, radio, something they used to call “newspapers.”  I’ve seen a few newspersons go off the deep end.  I’ve seen some things I wouldn’t want to see on the big screen - it was horrible enough life-size.

When I tell people about screaming arguments in which a variety of common newsroom items thrown at me ended up stuck in the soundproofing behind me, I hear gasps.  I don’t have the heart to tell them I returned fire with a severely brown coffee cup that put a dent in the paneling and left a mural-sized stain that is still being talked about today.  That was followed up by a left-handed sling of a half-empty pint bottle of Wild Turkey from the photographer’s drawer.  The news is not pretty when you get it.  It’s even uglier before that.

Was I writing about werewolves?  Yes, I suppose I was.  Sometimes I don’t know if I can scream.  Sometimes I don’t know if I can stop screaming.  The news does that to me.  So does Mad Dog 20/20.

Let’s pair a Santa Maria Valley Syrah with “The Howling,”  from Ambullneo Vineyards - not least because it’s called “Howling.”  Also because it’s dark and brooding.

Howl’d you like these?

Mad Dogs and Englishmen - Monastrell from Jumilla, Spain will go great with any movie, actually.

Stone Wolf Winery - Willamette Valley wine watched over by a wolf.  Do we trust him?

Grey Wolf Winery - The werewolves of Paso Robles are not drinking pina coladas.  They’re drinking this.

Werewolf Cabernet Sauvignon - They actually have nine different wines from Transylvania - oh, wait, that’s vampire country.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blood Of The Vines: From Russia With Love

Wine Goes To The Movies 

British secret agent James Bond gave the world its most famous drink order: “A martini - shaken, not stirred.”  Even if you don’t like martinis, it sounds great in Sean Connery’s dulcet tones.  If Bond had been a Russian, he might have asked for “Wodka - leave the bottle.”  But then he would have been working the wrong side of the Cold War street, would have worn a fur hat - and we would have rooted against him.

An American James Bond may have ordered a martini as well, but probably would have asked for it “dirty.”

James Bond hailing from Spain or Italy would certainly have gone for bubbles, but the order might have been badly dubbed.  Cava, por favor.  Prosecco, si prega di.

A French spy?  Champagne, of course.  He's licensed to chill.  Bollinger has been 007's bubble of choice for years, but Dom Perignon was the thing early in the franchise.  1953, s'il vous plait. He finds the '55 Dom useful in hand-to-hand combat - in Dr. No, Bond is ready to clobber the bad doctor with that vintage until a moment of civility overtakes him.

If Bond had been Canadian, he may have tried to pry state secrets from the enemy with a friendly game of Beer Hunter.  Remember James, only one can of the sixer gets shaken.

Germany's answer to the secret agent would no doubt have ordered Riesling - with the help of M's Riesling label decoder ring.

A Japanese Bond would have... been Charlie Chan.  Waiter, sake for number one son.

It doesn't really matter what the drink is, though, as long as 007 can share it with a Bond Girl.  Daniela Bianchi, in "From Russia With Love," fits the role just fine.

TFH guru Brian Trenchard-Smith points out in his commentary that “From Russia With Love” was not only one of John F. Kennedy’s favorite books, it was the last movie he ever saw.  Kennedy screened the James Bond followup to “Dr. No” the night before he left for Dallas.

For this Bond film, we will go for a Cold War favorite - well, a cellar-temperature war favorite.  Russian wine is not easy to come by, but it’s out there.

Grapes have been cultivated for centuries in Russia, but the advent of the modern era of Russian wine was a 19th century Crimean sparkling wine factory.  Much like the US had its Prohibition to stop the growth of a burgeoning wine industry, so Russia had the revolution of 1917.  That’s when the French left the country and took their winemaking know-how with them.  Russia now has only half the vineyard land it had during the 1980s, largely because of former Soviet head-of-state Mikhail Gorbachev’s campaign to stamp out alcoholism.  One might argue that vodka is more to blame for the country's alcoholism problem, and their current leader agrees.

Abrau-Durso is Russia's oldest Champagne house - why do they call it Champagne? - and the Rusky sparkler can be found online for anywhere from $10 to $50 a bottle.  Shaken, Mr. bond?  "Nyet."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Trailers From Hell Kickstarter Campaign

My pals at Trailers From Hell have a fundraising effort underway through Kickstarter.  If you like movies of the classic era - if you like the Blood Of The Vines wine and movie pairings - if you like Hollywood swag for being so generous - check out the kickstarter video here.