Showing posts with label wine pairing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine pairing. Show all posts

Friday, September 29, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Star Struck

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 will pair wines with three films that put stars in our eyes. 

I have a friend who puts on wine tasting events. He calls his shows, "Stars of" events. Stars of Napa Valley, Stars of Santa Barbara, Stars of Pinot Noir, Stars of Temecula. I think he may have missed that last one, actually. The point is, and there is one, that wine has tremendous star power. It is seductive and everyone wants a piece of it. Let's find out which wines we can pair with Stars of the Silver Screen.

From 1968 comes Star! I have to make sure the title of the movie is the last word in the sentence, so that the punctuation mark is in the right place. It is a biopic, featuring a star playing a star. Julie Andrews has the role of noted stage actress Gertrude Lawrence. She had a life of laughs, loves and liver cancer. You know you were living the high life when your organs throw up their imaginary hands and say, "uncle!"

La Maialina makes a Super Tuscan red blend called Gertrude which sells for under $20, and while I don't think Lawrence would have turned it down, she probably would have preferred something a little livelier. Let's pop the cork on a sparkling wine from, of all places, Michigan. M. Lawrence makes a brut rosé called Sex, which I'm sure would have met with Gertrude's approval. 

The version of A Star Is Born which hit the screens in 1976 was a remake of the 1937 original. It was the second of three remakes, but who's counting? The story has Janet Gaynor, er, Judy Garland, er, Lady Gaga… I'm sorry, I've got my remakes mixed. The well-trod story has Barbara Streisand as the up-and-coming singer who hooks up with a big star and passes him on his way down. 

There is a Barbara Streisand wine, a Chardonnay offered by Celebrity Cellars. The fact that it is a 1996 vintage is puzzling. Either they were incredibly judicious about doling it out over the decades or it didn't sell well at all. You can find out which it is for $40. Or, you can pick up a wine from Barbara's neighborhood, Malibu. Saddlerock Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is available in the 2013 and 2014 vintages for less than $60.

Battle Beyond the Stars is a 1980 space opera. Of course, the term space opera refers to stories told in outer space in the same way horse opera refers to westerns. There are no arias, coloraturas or librettos here, but every movie set has to have a prima donna on it somewhere. 

The movie reworks the story of The Magnificent Seven, which itself reworked The Seven Samurai. So this tale has come from ancient Japan, through the American West, and into outer space. Try doing that with Citizen Kane.

The film provided big breaks for James Cameron, John Sayles and Bill Paxton, although Paxton's contribution was working on the set as a carpenter. Early days, yes.

A futuristic movie deserves a futuristic wine. Future Perfect Wine is located in Los Olivos, and they make wines from some of Santa Barbara County's best vineyards. The 2022 Dry Riesling hails from Gainey Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley and sells for $45.

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Friday, September 22, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Funny, You Don't Look Noirish

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 will pair wines with three movies from the film noir department. 

Noir is a word which is near and dear to the hearts of movie lovers and wine lovers alike. Film noir puts the accent on that which is dark and maybe a bit mysterious. The movies in this category are generally moody, brooding, temperamental sorts. They aren't always black and white but they always depict a world that is made up of shadows.

In wine, noir is most commonly associated with the Pinot Noir grape. These wines are generally moody, brooding, temperamental sorts, too. They depict a wine world that is dark and mysterious, but they often lean into elegance. 

In Sideways, Miles describes Pinot Noir as "thin-skinned and temperamental," a grape that needs "constant care and attention," one that can't grow just anywhere or be grown by just anybody. Of course he is actually describing himself. 

You can also find Grenache Noir, although the noir there is used only to differentiate it from Grenache Blanc. Baco Noir is a North American hybrid grape from which wine is made largely in the Northeast and Canada. 

Johnny Eager is a 1941 film noir of the finest kind, full of treachery, lies and lust, coming at you from every angle. There is even a cruel twist of fate thrown in, just to underscore that what happened simply had to happen. That's film noir, Jake. Robert Taylor, Lana Turner and Van Heflin play off of each other like they were born to do so. 

A Pinot Noir to pair with Johnny Eager has to be as dark and brooding as the grape can get, with the slick panache of Taylor and the smoldering beauty of Turner. Migration Winery is in Napa but they drove south to pick grapes from the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria. That patch of ground is as close you get to a grand cru vineyard in the US of A. Their 2016 Pinot goes for $75, but they have already sold out of a handful of vintages so don't wait.

2011's Drive features Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood Jack-of-all-trades, one of those trades being a getaway driver for bad guys. When Gosling was a teenage Mouseketeer, more people probably pegged him as the future star of La La Land and Barbie rather than a moody criminal cohort. So much for typecasting. He plays dark really well. As an added bonus, Albert Brooks finally gets to play a guy who gets nobody's sympathy. 

Drive Wines started as a hobby, in a garage in Sonoma County. They were not driving getaways in their spare time, they were too busy making wine. Their $38 Quan Vineyard Pinot Noir hails from Los Carneros grapes. Drive, a garage, CARneros, this is fitting together too perfectly. 

The Big Sleep has Bogie and Bacall in their 1946 noir splendor. Everyone in this movie is running from someone else, except of course hard-boiled private eye Philip Marlowe. He's probably the man you see when you look over your shoulder. Humphrey Bogart makes murder and intrigue look about as hard as leaning against a wall and flipping a coin. Lauren Bacall sings "And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine" with just the right amount of hair-flip I don't care. 

Try The Big Sleep Cocktail: cognac, champagne, sugar and a squeeze of lemon. I hear it's pretty good. But we need something a bit darker, don't we? Talbott's Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Pinot Noir brings the magic of the Santa Lucia Highlands to us for a bit less than $40 a bottle. That AVA name, Santa Lucia Highlands, always makes me want to hear "The Happy Wanderer" on bagpipes, even though I know it's in Monterey County.

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Friday, September 8, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Dunaway Went Thataway

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 wine pairings for a trio of Faye Dunaway films. 

It is tempting to just skip the wine and make a pitcher of Faye Dunaway cocktails instead. However, with six ingredients and muddling involved, it is far too complicated for me to make. Half of those ingredients are vodka, mango juice and jalapeño peppers, none of which are cocktail faves for me, so I'll be in the wine aisle.

In the 1970 drama, Puzzle of a Downfall Child, Dunaway plays a former fashion model who whiles away the hours of the day at a beach house. Nice work if you can get it. She looks back on her life of debauchery, a composite of sex, drugs, deceit, and probably a glass of wine here and there, and cannot find any good memories to pluck from it. Well, that is certainly puzzling. All that debauchery, and no good memories? Very puzzling.

It is puzzling enough to send me into the word association vault, where only the finest wine pairings for movies reside. In there, I spied a dusty bottle from Napa Valley, from a producer named Newton. The Puzzle is a red blend which brings together the big 5 Bordeaux grape varieties with no regrets at all. If you are looking for debauchery, The Puzzle is a good place to start. I saw the 2018 vintage going for $150. 

Would Faye herself like a glass or two of it? Maybe. Her character in Puzzle most certainly would. But she wouldn't enjoy it. Her character in Barfly would just take a bottle of vodka. 

The 1974 neo-noir classic, Chinatown, features Dunaway in what was instantly hailed as one of the best films ever made. It was recently described in The Offer, offhandedly, as possessing the winning combination of incest and water rights. Well, it goes to show, you never know what people will pay to see. 

Chinatown is a puzzle of its own. Why is that water gushing from the reservoir every night? Who killed that guy? Why did this guy cut my nose? Is she really her? My sister? My daughter? So many questions, too many answers. Riddle me this: what wine will we pour for Chinatown?

Let's try some pink wine from France. Hampton Water rosé comes from the Languedoc, from winemaker Gerard Bertrand. It is actually the brainchild of Jesse and Jon Bon Jovi, and Hampton Water contributes to the It Gets Better program, which supports LGBTQ+ youth around the world. 

Mommie Dearest had 1981 Dunaway cast as Joan Crawford. It seems I remember a trailer for the movie, probably a spoof, selling Mommie as a horror film. The "no wire hangers" line played into that concept significantly. Mommie Dearest did sell Crawford as an abusive drunk, which pushes a wine pairing for the movie out of the realm of comedy and into tragedy. 

Sometime between then and now, the idea of "mommy wine" was born. It isn't difficult to find online offers of clothing, wine glasses, decor items, mouse pads, and shower curtains emblazoned with the notion that "Mommy needs a glass of wine." Conceivably, there are a few items with Crawford's face emblazoned on them as well. We are in toxic territory with the mommy wine culture. There are many out there who feel that if Mommy is so stressed out from being a parent, a glass of wine may not be the proper method of dealing with that stress. 

Anyway, Mommy's Time Out Pinot Grigio is our pairing here, for better or worse. It's a bottom shelf bottling which sells for less than ten bucks, so mommy can afford all the stress relief she needs. It also comes in other "flavors."

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Friday, September 1, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Pre Code Follies

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 go back… way back… back into time… to an era when there was no Hays Code. 

It seems so unfair that a short time after movies learned to talk, someone came along to try and make them shut up. The Hays Code may not have taken the words from the actors' mouths, but it often gave them different words to speak. What Prohibition was to booze, the Hays Code wanted to be to movies.

In the 1931 classic, Safe in Hell, a woman accused of murder runs away to what is described in some places as a "South Pacific paradise." The place where she actually sought refuge was Tortuga, an island in the Caribbean, specifically Haiti. 

Haitian wine is tough to find, because the grape industry in the Caribbean has found it difficult to get a toehold. The climate just doesn't cooperate. Anyway, why make wine with all that sugar cane growing? Rum is the export from Haiti and their neighboring nations. But occasionally a winemaker gets away. Bertony Faustin makes wine in Oregon. He was born to Haitian immigrants and says he does not drink alcohol. He thinks of himself as a farmer first, raising Pinot Noir grapes in one of the Pinot Noir-iest places in America. He is also on the books as the first black winemaker in Oregon. His Pinot goes for $50 and up. Pair his wine with Safe in Hell and let the Hays Code be damned. 

1933's International House features a who's who of radio and vaudeville performers of the day, complete with some blue humor, since there was no Hays Code to worry the producers. There are a few songs along the way, like Cab Calloway and his Harlem Maniacs doing Reefer Man. Try that with Mr. Hays looking over your shoulder. 

At the top of the bill is W. C. Fields, a guy who I paraphrase every time I cook with wine. You know, "...sometimes I even add it to the food." My wife tells me that joke never gets tiresome. Never. Not even a little bit. Burns and Allen do their thing, Bela Lugosi is on hand and Rose Marie livens up the proceedings in her special way.

A movie this wild deserves a wild wine pairing. Pop the cork on a nice bottle of Champagne. The good stuff gets pretty rich pretty fast, but a bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Reserve Exclusive Brut Blue Label can be yours for the wild price of two $20 bills. Or fire up a reefer and enjoy. 

Wild Boys of the Road, another one from 1933, is a teen movie of the most depressing kind. The kind from the Great Depression, in fact. A group of kids wind up in dire straits and jump a train to try and find a better life in hoboville. There's no better life there. It actually gets worse before it gets better, with rape, murder and a disfiguring accident. But, it does get better. 

The year this movie was made, the national nightmare of Prohibition was repealed. However, most wineries had been forced to board up the windows if they couldn't swing a deal making sacramental wine. That was the only booze legally being made for those dark 13 years. And a winery right here in lil' ol' Los Angeles stayed open thanks to the blood of Christ, simulated as it may have been. 

Back in the day, the San Antonio Winery vineyards were right around the building - steps from the L.A. River, just a cork's throw from Chavez Ravine. Now, the grapes come from their vineyards in Napa Valley, Monterey County and Paso Robles. The winery is still just southeast of Dodger Stadium. Depression or no depression, the Riboli family not only survived, they thrived. 

You can hardly go anywhere these days without seeing a billboard advertising their Stella Rosa brand, wine made in Italy and brought to our shores in big ships. San Simeon brings a taste of Paso Robles to the table and Windstream comes from the Santa Lucia Highlands. All of the wines carry the thread of Depression Era America through them. Lift a glass to the teenaged hobos of Wild Boys of the Road

Friday, August 25, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Waterlogged

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 don our snorkeling gear for a dip in the cool waters of celluloid. Wine pairings for those flicks await you onshore.

The 2020 thriller, Underwater, has no exclamation point after the word, which helps, along with many other things, to differentiate it from the 1955 movie that does have the exclamation point. Usually it is overuse of commas that gets me into trouble with the punctuation police. 

Wine is not, despite what some people think, alcohol with water in it. That's called scotch and water, or gin and tonic, or a wet martini. These days, some folks are putting their wines under the water for aging purposes. They feel the gentle movement of the waves will offer some assistance in getting the wine to its senior years.

One wine seller recently had to pour out two thousand bottles of their wine which had been gently swaying in the waters off Santa Barbara. They put those cases below the waves without the permission of the California Coastal Commission, which branded the wine "unfit for human consumption." That also describes some wines I've had in the past, and some movies I've seen.

In Underwater, an earthquake hammers an undersea drilling facility and the crew has to escape. Making it difficult are a lack of escape pods, a long underwater walk to another facility, and monsters. I guess the monsters are probably their biggest hurdle.

Let's pair a wine with Underwater which has actually spent some time underwater, but with the proper permits. Croatia's Edivo Vina Winery is above ground along the Adriatic Sea, but their Navis Mysterium wine is aged for a couple of years below the waves. A bottle of this seafaring vino can run up to $400, but it comes in a nice wooden box. Use that for burying your wine budget.

She Gods of Shark Reef livened up 1958 for B-movie fans. Director Roger Corman says he doesn't remember any She Gods in the picture, but there are some beautiful hula dancers in it, who are given considerable time in a movie that is only seconds more than an hour long.

There are sharks in the movie, and that makes a wine pairing easy. Look for a golfer whose nickname is "The Great White Shark." Greg Norman Estates has good stuff from California, Australia and New Zealand. None are named "Shark" but each has the telltale fin on the label. 

What story there is follows a shipwrecked pair of brothers in a tropical paradise populated with beautiful hula dancers. One of the brothers is a good guy and the other is a bad guy. That's how it goes in adventure films. By the way, you won't see many other movies in which the shark is a good guy, at least comparatively. 

1954's Creature from the Black Lagoon has probably influenced more pop culture than any other man-in-a-suit movie. The Gill-man turns up in video games on the casino floor, a Dave Edmunds song was written about him, and he even stars in homoerotic literature, not to mention the raft of movie monsters that were inspired by or patterned after him.

When it comes to instinct-driven characters in the movies, the creature has primal motivation. Does Gill-man want to kill? No. Does he want to destroy? Not really. Does he want to find a way back home? Hell no. He wants the girl. I've already got a girl, so I'll be happy with a bottle of wine.

Black Lagoon Carignan has no doubt been waiting for just this pairing. The wine comes from the south of France - Languedoc-Roussillon, to be precise - and has a depiction of the creature on the label. At least, I’m guessing it is the Gill-man. It looks like it could be a pair of frog's legs, which is not a bad idea for what to nibble on while watching and imbibing. 

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Friday, August 4, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Double Acts

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week, Blood of the Vines has double vision - three movies in which deuces are wild. Just one wine pairing for each film, though.

David Cronenberg's 1988 weirdness was Dead Ringers, starring Jeremy Irons, an actor who excels in every genre he chooses. The weirdness? Irons plays a dual role of identical twin brothers who are gynecologists. Where did Cronenberg ever get that idea? From two actual twin brother gynecologists. I kid you not. You could look it up. The script, however, is described as "highly fictionalized." It is, but not as much as you might expect.

Law & Order fans will note that Jill Hennessy got her big break in Dead Ringers, appearing, she and her twin sister, as double-your-pleasure prostitutes. 

Twice as nice is the Double Eagle Cabernet, from the Grieve Winery. Let's not focus on naming a company Grieve, even if that is your name. Let's focus on the $90 Napa Valley cult wine lookalike. Double your pleasure by making it a magnum, 1.5 liters instead of 750 milliliters. 

The 1947 film noir A Double Life stars Ronald Colman in the role that netted him an Oscar. He plays an actor who leans a little too heavily into his characters. That's not so bad when he plays a well-meaning but befuddled man of the people. But when he plays, say, Othello - look out. He's a method man who is actually schizophrenic. 

His double life gets derailed by the double of a woman he is seeing. That is a perfect way to divide and conquer a split personality. Maybe he should have taken a part in A Midsummer Night's Dream instead of Othello.

Double Trouble is a Washington state blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from Charles & Charles. You probably won't get into as much trouble with this wine as Colman got into as Othello. 

The Black Room, a 1935 Boris Karloff film, has the horror king playing two roles - twin brothers in an Austrian castle. Oh, and there is a family curse which states that one of the brothers would kill the other in the castle's black room. That would be caution enough for me to stay away from it, hide out in the green room or the blue room. Or here's an idea: repaint the black room. But you know that's not where we're headed. 

Karloff made this film after scaring the nation witless with Frankenstein, The Mummy and Bride of Frankenstein, so he was on a bit of a major roll.

With the brothers as twins, it is no spoiler to mention that the killer twin assumes the identity of the other one. He is exposed in a way that reminds me of the Dr. John song, "How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come Around." Except, of course, the dog does bark. Evil Karloff ends up hoist by his own petard, as it were. And if you look up the origin of the word "petard," you'll find out why Shakespeare was such a funny guy.

Pichetti Winery - in Cupertino, of all places - has a Brother's Blend which will be a lot kinder to you than evil Karloff was to his bro. Petit Verdot, Malbec and Syrah grapes join together to form a bridge from Bordeaux to the Rhône Valley, by way of California's Central Coast. It's a $43 petard. 

Friday, July 28, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Hellscapes

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week, Blood of the Vines goes to hell in a handbasket for three films straight outta Hades. There's a hot wine pick for each Damned movie.

Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight is a 1995 blend of horror and comedy, two styles that marry together better than one might imagine. Demon Knight unfortunately didn't make the scribes of the day get all weepy. Critics said that the general problem with the film was that it presented itself as being scary and funny, but fell a bit short on both counts. 

The Crypt Keeper himself - itself? - opens and closes the movie, delivering a sample of mid-90s entertainment. He - it? - may have been the inspiration for the talking skeletons you'll find in the market section of Cracker Barrel around Halloween time.

For a Crypt Keeper movie, let us pair Crypt of the Wizard wines, which are also a headbanger's delight. This Greek Merlot promises to open "the iron gates of the Mortiis Kingdom." It's kinda like Lord of the Rings meets Judas Priest. Schlagers! 

The Brits gave us Curse of the Demon in 1957, possibly a delayed revenge for us leaving the loving arms of King George. The film was called Night of the Demon overseas, and we got the cursed title, along with a shorter running time.

The story pits a couple of runic experts against each other, with a demon thrown in to make things more interesting. There was a big fight over whether to show the demon onscreen or leave it to the "theater of the mind." It was felt by some that leaving the demon unseen was "too British." The two sides generated so much animosity that one would think they had all forgotten they were working on a movie destined for the American drive-ins. 

Enticement's Demon Dance Shiraz promises to bring out your "devil-may-care" side, and we are just hoping that it is not an actual demon which emerges. 

The 1987 British horror film Hellraiser was written and directed by Clive Barker. He did okay with this movie, spawning from it nine sequels and a reboot. Of course half of them went straight to video. 

Forget the story line, forget the gore - what you'll remember is Pinhead. He's the guy who looks like acupuncture gone wrong. I recently discovered that he bears a strong resemblance to a guy wearing an 18th century bear hunting outfit. A bear won't mess with a porcupine, I guess.

The wine for Hellraiser should probably come from the netherworld, but how about Georgia? Is that close enough to the netherworld for you? Farmer's Daughter Vineyards produces a wine called Hellraiser, which is made from the Blanc du Bois grape. That is a fruit which is typically grown in warm, humid climes. It generally ends up as a bubbly, but this appears to be a still, semi-sweet wine. I don't think the name of the movie matches the grape. Saying "Oh, boy. Blanc du Bois. Let's watch Hellraiser" is a bit like yelling "Imma get ripped on Riesling and tear this place apart!" But your mileage may vary. 

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Friday, July 21, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Big City Blues

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 wine pairings for three movies about major metropoli. Well, two about The Big Apple and one about… Portland. Portland? 

There are plenty of films set in the exciting locales of L.A., Chicago, Philly or Phoenixville. That last one is the Pennsylvania burg where some of the shooting happened for The Blob. Well, we'll give NYC its due and try to imagine Portland as a concrete jungle.

Ah yes, the film so nice they named it twice. New York New York hit movie screens in 1977, with the answer to the question, "Can Martin Scorsese do no wrong?" The answer was yes. Wait, it was no. Ah, the syntax is so twisted I can't get a grip on it. Let's just say that movie-goers were less than wowed and critics were even less than that.

We have Di Niro and Minnelli, a pretty great theme song which was made even greater by a guy named Sinatra a couple years later, and a pretty grand version of Opus Number One. It may not be a great film, but you can sure have a good time watching it with a big barrel of over-buttered popcorn. And a barrel-aged Chardonnay.

Try my go-to white wine, the one I go to when I'm in the mood for a good ol' fashioned Cali Chardonnay. Edna Valley spares nary a stave when it comes to aging their Chardonnay, and it will be a perfect match with that buttery popcorn. Or that buttery scampi. 

Okay, so maybe I was a little harsh on Portland earlier. Their population was only about 600,000 in 1957, when Portland Exposé came out. It is more than two million now - in the top 25 - so they are a legitimately big city. 

Exposé was ripped from reality as a story about two crime gangs fighting over who gets the unions. A bar owner decides to install some pinball machines for the pleasure of his clientele, and that starts things hopping. Because pinball starts with p, and that rhymes with t, and that stands for trouble - in the form of gambling, drugs and prostitution.

The nice thing is that the union plays the part of the cavalry, riding to the rescue when the bar owner and an innocent young thing are kidnapped. I would like to think that should I ever be in a similar situation, I would see law enforcement officers on the scene, armed to the teeth, rather than my SAG-AFTRA rep. I mean, she's nice and all, but guns are better when you are on the lam from the syndicate. So I've been told.

Seven Bridges Winery is in downtown Portland, just steps from the Willamette River. They do a nice Malbec and an even nicer Cabernet Franc, both of which will pair nicely with Portland Exposé.

While we’re noiring it, let's get back to the Big Apple, where they know how to make it dark. 1948's Naked City follows the cops as they investigate a homicide, decades before Law & Order made a cliche out of it. The persons of interest seem a little more engaged while being questioned than those on L&O. Those people find it hard to interrupt making toast for a police interrogation.

Naked City later squeezed its shadowy self into the small screen, giving America a weekly dose of those "eight million stories." They will never run out. Big cities are making new stories all the time.

We will strip down the wine pairing for Naked City. Naked Wines is a wine club of sorts which focuses on independent winemakers. They like to keep the quality high so you won't send any thugs out to break kneecaps in the middle of the night.

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Monday, July 3, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Independence Day

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 pair wines with three movies which examine the American experience for Independence Day.

1776 hit movie screens in 1972, preceding America's bicentennial by four years. The producers didn't miss the mark, they simply got a running start on the festivities. The film was adapted from the Broadway hit musical. The fictionalized account of what led to the Declaration of Independence is dressed up with a lot more singing than I expect there was in real life. Ben Franklin getting tuneful I could see, especially after a couple of drinks. John Adams, not so much.

As you may have learned in school, unless you went to the schools that Trump attended, the beloved document describes the will of the colonies to break free from Great Britain and it serves up a lengthy list of grievances against the British throne. If they'd had Twitter back then, the colonists could have canceled King George without throwing a single teabag into Boston Harbor. 

Speaking of despots, Nixon didn't like the movie. He felt one of the songs in the score reflected badly on conservatives, as if conservatism needs any help finding the bad light. It is worth remembering today that nearly all of the founding fathers were slave owners themselves. That includes Thomas Jefferson.

Mr. Jefferson loved his Bordeaux, but not until later in his life. For decades, he was a Madeira man, as were the other founding fathers who imbibed. The Rare Wine Company has a Special Reserve Madeira with TJ's name on it. 

What would July 4th viewing be without a war picture? Here is a dandy from 1945, They Were Expendable, directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne. Is there anything more American? The movie - taken from a bestselling book - tells the story of the US Navy's PT boats. It is fact-based fiction, and is supposedly very close to how Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three was actually introduced into WWII.

President John F. Kennedy, you may remember, served on a PT boat while he was in the navy. Movie costar Robert Montgomery actually commanded one, something that film buffs say former Navy officer Ford really liked about him. John Wayne was reportedly in Ford's doghouse because he was turned down for military service. The film was shot in the Florida Keys, moviedom's version of the Philippines.

The Tackitt Family Vineyards in Paso Robles is veteran-owned. Leon was a military ordnance guy in the Navy. Now he blows up people's expectations with his fruit of the vine. The Vintner's Reserve Zinfandel was a gold medal winner, and it's only $40. 

The Red Badge of Courage, from 1951, brings Stephen Crane's 19th century book to life. Director John Huston thought his two-hour cut was the best work he had done, but MGM thought differently. They slashed the film to 70 minutes and put in narration to explain what was happening. MGM, apparently, decided that nobody ever went broke underestimating the audience.

It is a Civil War tale about a young man who deserts the battlefield in fear, only to return in hopes of getting his war wound - the titular red badge. It is fitting to watch a Civil War movie for Independence Day, as it was that bloody confrontation that declared the nation's independence from slavery. 

For a Civil War pic, what could be better than a wine from the first battlefield? The Winery at Bull Run is located at the entrance to Manassas Battlefield. From that historical locale, they produce Virginia wines that echo the Civil War era. Back in that day, the wines were probably made from Muscadine grapes, but the Virginia wine scene has grown exponentially since then. 

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Friday, June 30, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Weird Musicals

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 find wine pairings for three musical movies which may cause us to need a drink - Weird Musicals.

When we say weird, we mean weird. Cannibal! The Musical could hardly get any weirder. If you thought a musical featuring Nazi soldiers was weird - and there have been a few: The Sound of Music, Cabaret, Blazing Saddles - wait until you get a load of this. Cannibal! The Musical is a 1993 black comedy about people eating other people, set to music. 

From the comedy team of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, in their pre-South Park days, the script loosely follows real-life events from the late 19th century. You know how it is - a winter excursion strands your group in the mountains and, well, ya gotta eat.

You may find it surprising that someone could find humor in that sort of desperation. You may even find it disturbing, or disgusting. Parker made a successful career off of making people feel those emotions after this directorial debut. Have you given any thought to what you'll snack on while watching Cannibal! The Musical? Ears of corn? Kidney beans? Lady fingers? That's up to you. My job is to select a wine pairing.

Cannibal Creek Winery in southeastern Australia offers a great place to start the search, and to stop it. They have a full line of wines that will pair incredibly well with a movie featuring both cannibalism and a thoughtful score.

The Apple made 1980 memorable for fans of horribly bad movies. It is a scifi musical with biblical overtones, hence the prominently placed apple. The Menahem Golan picture took a look into the future as far away as … 1994. Really? Was that a dollar store crystal ball? You look into the future of rock and roll and can't see farther than 14 years? I'd get my dollar back.

Golan likely wanted at least some of his millions back after getting a look at what most critics and viewers consider to be one of the worst movies ever made. The musical aspect of the film reportedly ate up some seven thousand dollars per day of production - and we don't even have a soundtrack album to show for it! Not that we would really want one.

There is a feeling that there may be something here that's entertaining. A god-like person named Mr. Topps, who rides in a Rolls Royce-shaped cloud? That sounds like we may be onto something good. Then we find that the savior sent by the supreme being was trying to save the gifted singer from the evil clutches of glittery gays and drag queens. I'll bet there wasn't a Bud Light to be had on the set.

Let's pick a wine for The Apple befitting of this misanthropic marvel. Washington state's Chateau Ste Michelle has a red blend called Prayers for Sinners and Saints, because they feel that our true self lies somewhere in between those two extremes. For real-life choices, there is a lot of gray area there. It is simpler with the wine - white or red?

1982's Pink Floyd - The Wall is one of the more depressing musicals out there - which is saying something, as we have already chalked one up to cannibalism. 

Alienation, the horror of war, the danger of hammers and becoming comfortably numb are not exactly the stuff of Rex Harrison moments. And nobody ever accused Roger Waters of being either Lerner or Loewe

Pink Floyd - The Wall was a big enough hit that we might have expected musicals made from other Pink Floyd albums. However, Pink Floyd - Obscured By Clouds, Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets and Pink Floyd - Ummagumma never materialized.

Oh, by the way, which one's Pink? Bob Geldof. Bob Geldof is Pink. But, we'll go full red for one of the Wines That Rock. They don't have one dedicated to The Wall, but the Cabernet Sauvignon for The Dark Side of the Moon is close enough for rock'n'roll.

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Friday, May 19, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - The Script's The Thing

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 examine three films which rest on the masterful scripts that were written for them. We are in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America, and whether you carry a sign or post one on social media, we hope you join us in supporting the fine members of the WGA as they strike for the future of writing.

George Axelrod's Paris When it Sizzles is a 1964 remake of a 1952 French film. Axelrod based his screenplay on Holiday for Henrietta. Since one should write what one knows, the Sizzles script centers on a screenwriter. He has been hired to put words on paper, but keeps putting off the job at hand. Writers will relate to the situation. 

William Holden and Audrey Hepburn may not have sizzled in their starring roles, but the movie they are writing in the movie has plenty of references to their previous film work in real life. Paris When it Sizzles fizzled out when it came to the critics. The work of the lead actors gained praise, but some scribes felt that Axelrod should have put a match to his pile of paper.

The pairing of Holden and Hepburn recalled an earlier time when the two had a fling. Holden said he didn’t know which was worse - having to face Hepburn again or having to face his growing problem with alcohol. Both proved to haunt him.

Pairing a wine with Sizzles will most assuredly require a glance at France. We're looking at you, Burgundy, with your elegance on display both in the red and the white. For Holden, a nice Pinot Noir, Vincent Girardin's Cuvée Saint-Vincent. It sells for a reasonable $35. For Hepburn, Louis Moreau Chablis is 100% Chardonnay and smells just like the sea. At $30, a very good deal.

Preston Sturges made 1941 a year to remember with his great Sullivan's Travels. The movie concerns a director who wants to quit making comedies and turn out serious art instead. He travels as a tramp, learning the value of comedy in the process. Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake star in the film, and despite their on-screen chemistry the pair would never work together again. That was reportedly McCrea's choice. Sullivan's Travels is recognized today as a masterpiece of filmmaking. 

Censors must have used up a box of red pencils on this script. They thought the word "bum" would be off-putting to the British. They warned about the scene in which McCrae and Lake's characters share a bed - in a homeless shelter. The prison sequence rankled federal censors, who felt it showed inhumane treatment which could be used as propaganda during wartime. In the end, Paramount no doubt felt they had gotten their money's worth of trouble and talent. They reportedly paid $6,000 for the screenplay.

You have a bargain script - you want a bargain wine, too? If I told you there is a California Cabernet Sauvignon for $5 at your local supermarket, would that be of interest to you? Meridian Cab is actually pretty good, although nobody is going to forget about Opus One because of it.

Michael Tolkin based his screenplay for 1992's The Player on some pretty good source material - his own 1988 novel of the same name. A studio executive kills a writer - the wrong writer, it turns out - and sets in motion a green light project which has red light written all over it. Stars, no stars, happy ending, bummer ending, bad title, bad traffic - this film-within-the-film has everything in Hollywood attached to it.

There are so many famous people making cameo appearances in The Player that you may think you pushed play on It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World by accident. You'll know you didn't make that mistake because Tim Robbins is so very much taller than Terry-Thomas. 

I wanted to get cute with the wine pairing for The Player by selecting a Black Knight Wine from golfer Gary Player. My wife, though, thought I should honor Greta Scacchi - the "happy ending" of the movie - with a beautiful Italian wine. I have found that it is good luck to agree with my wife, and I happen to have a lovely Italian wine right here - the Pio Cesare Barolo. Its brawn doesn't get in the way of its elegance. 

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Friday, May 12, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Flying Monsters

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 examine three films which feature some winged wonders of horror - Flying Monsters - with an appropriate wine pairing for each.

The Flying Serpent took off in 1946 as the living embodiment of the Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl. Ol' Quetzy was one of four main deities of the Aztecs, and the other three had equally hard-to-pronounce names. In fact, the producers of a 1982 remake gave up on trying to educate the public on how to say it and simply called their version Q - see below. 

In this feature, the flying serpent guards an Aztec treasure and really hates it when psycho archaeologists pluck his feathers from him. In fact, that is what sends the killer lizard into a rage, not a threat to the treasure it is supposed to be standing guard over. The lunatic scientist uses that weakness in the monster as a means of manipulating him to kill. "Here, hold this feather, willya?" Then he turns and runs.

Those who pick apart old movies for a living point out that the story was basically lifted from The Devil Bat - also see below - and that ol' Quetzy looks about as scary as a stuffed animal you might win at a county fair.

There was a wine which zeroed in on this movie perfectly, Quetzalcoatl, a limited release from a graphic designer named Efraim Franco. The bottle design seems to be the thing here. Or, you could just do tequila shots.

Q the Winged Serpent is the 1982 remake of the previous film. Director and TFH guru Larry Cohen has the flying dragon-god living in the Chrysler Building in New York City, quite a step up from that cave in who-knows-where, Mexico. NYC has been center stage for other movie monsters through the years - King Kong, Rosemary's Baby, Gordon Gecko, etc.

There is a nest and an egg in this one, providing the viewer with the prospect of more Quetzalcoatl sightings while taking in the Big Apple on the tourist bus. 

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is more of a thing than I could have imagined. It is a deity based on noodles and charged with being the word and the light for the lighthearted religion known as Pastafarianism. The wine seems to be out of stock - wouldn’t you know it - but you could order a Chrysler Building bottle stopper from any number of NYC gift shops and use it with whatever wine you want for your viewing party. I mean, really.

The Devil Bat provided the source material for the aforementioned The Flying Serpent. That film got a lot of heat for its similarity to The Devil Bat, even though they had turned the bat into a birdlike reptile. That sort of script-robbing is the stuff that Babylon was made from last year.

Bela Lugosi plays a scientist driven off his bean by a bad business decision. He gets his revenge by developing jumbo-sized bats - the mammals - to attack and kill his perceived enemies. He also devises a special after shave and trains the bats to go after it. Then, he manages to get his targets to wear the scent. Jesus, I'm tired already. Agatha Christie could have called it The Aqua Velva Murders.  

For a Bela Lugosi movie, you have to be ready for a Bela Lugosi wine. His family makes vino and sells it under Bela's name - despite Dracula's insistence that "I don't drink … wine." I'll bet he'd go for a blood-red Malbec, though, with Bela Lugosi's name on the label.

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Friday, March 10, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - More Movies You Never Heard Of

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 examine three under-the-radar films which more than likely escaped your notice.

Uzmaki is a 2000 horror film based on a manga (Japanese graphic novel) which was still being created while the movie was being made. Hence, the two stories ended up with different endings. The plot centers on a town's obsession with spirals, and the tendency of its inhabitants to turn into snails. The real horror? There is no French restaurant around to take advantage of the suddenly plentiful supply of king-sized escargot. 

Beware if you see this in a theater and one of the patrons leaves a slimy trail as he exits. 

The film was released as the lead picture of a double feature - which leaves us to wonder why the second half was left out of this Blood of the Vines article. Certainly, if you have never heard of Uzmaki, you can't be expected to know its second banana.

There can be no finer wine pairing for Uzmaki than The Holy Snail, a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Don't get hypnotized by the lovely spiral contained in the picture of the snail on the label.

2018's Overwhelm the Sky is the creation of TFH guru Daniel Kremer. His story - updating an 18th-century novel - concerns a radio personality. Finally, one about me! Just kidding. My radio career wasn't all that exciting, and with movies like this one and Play Misty For Me, I'm glad it wasn't. 

Do you recall the old vaudeville bit in which a man complains to a doctor that he doesn't sleep at night, that he just walks around all night long? The doctor says, "Oh, you're a somnambulist." The man replies, "No, I'm a night watchman." It just goes to show that things are not always what they seem.

Overwhelm does just that, with a black-and-white dreamscape that has been lauded for its cinematic inventiveness. Our golden-throated radio guy stays up nights exploring the death of one of his friends. It's no substitute for a warm glass of milk before bedtime - or a stiff drink for that matter - and if you end up losing sleep over the film, Kremer will no doubt feel that he has done his job.

Some folks feel overwhelmed when trying to choose a wine. One survey says 23% of wine shoppers feel overwhelmed by the choices before them. South Africa's Easy Choice Winery tries to take the angst out of buying wine, with labels like "The One With the Berries" and "The One That Grows on You." Is it a real winery or just a kooky branding idea? I'm still looking for their actual website. There are plenty of articles available, though, on what a kooky branding idea it is. If we can simplify your wine pairing search with a Herzogovenian recco, here it is: Mjesečar, from Brkic Winery. It translates as "sleepwalker," and it's also the perfect gift for the night watchman in your life. The Žilavka grapes were aged in Bosnian oak barrels. Who said choosing a wine is hard?

A movie title like Don't Worry We'll Think of a Title throws up a ton of red flags, and offers a reason why you may have missed this one the first time around. The 1966 comedy stars Morey Amsterdam, Rose Marie and Richard Deacon. To sweeten the deal, they throw in some uncredited cameos from the likes of Steve Allen, Milton Berle, Carl Reiner, Irene Ryan, Danny Thomas, Nick Adams, Cliff Arquette and Forrest Tucker. But wait! Order before midnight and get Moe Howard, not as a Stooge. Now we're talkin’.

Welll, not so fast. Amsterdam - the co-writer, by the way - plays an ordinary Joe, or actually an ordinary Charlie with the last name of Yuckapuck. That's a name only a Catskills comedy writer could love. The humor here gets better the more borscht you have under your belt. The script is maybe a little light on bald jokes aimed at Deacon's invisible hairline, or maybe it's just a little light all the way around.

For Don't Worry, let's uncork a bottle from the Catskills.  Tannerville's Hudson-Chatham Winery has a wine made from the hybrid Baco Noir grape.  Morey might have said, "didja hear the one about the vitis vinifera that got crossed with a vitis riparia?"  Okay, so maybe he would have thrown in a bald joke instead.  This juice is a far cry from the old berry wines of the mid-60s Catskills resort era.

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Friday, March 3, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Border Incidents

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 examine some films which border on the border.

The stars are here in The Border - Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Valerie Perrine, Warren Oates - in a noirish 1982 film about the southern US border. You know, the one that's leaking like a sieve? Lie. The one that needs a big, beautiful wall? Big lie. The one that's actually a river for about 2,000 miles? Truth.

Nicholson is an INS agent, one of the guys who patrols the border to keep us safe from those tired, poor, wretched huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Keitel, well, he and Oates are the dark side. You probably saw that one coming. 

The soundtrack is really worth a listen, with a score by Ry Cooder and other borderesque tunes by the likes of Freddy Fender and Sam The Sham. I recall that it made for some great listening while grilling hot links on the patio in the Texas summer sun. 

Remember when some tan seekers would slather themselves in baby oil before draping their bodies over a poolside chaise lounge? Popular radio stations would air a loud "ding" in their top 40 mix to let listeners know when it was time to turn over. If a woman wanted to sauté herself for me, I personally preferred that she used cocoa butter and some Chardonnay. 

That's a good pairing idea for The Border, a nice, buttery Chardonnay. There is one called Butter which you can pick up at the supermarket for less than $15. It also comes in a box, if that's how you roll in your double-wide. If you want to step up your game, Edna Valley Vineyards makes a great buttery Chardonnay for about $40.

Border Incident is an actual film noir, from 1949. Ricardo Montalbán and George Murphy star, along with Howard Da Silva, in a tale of two undercover agents trying to stop the smuggling of migrant workers from Mexico into California. It was done on a shoestring budget, and it shows in the lighting. So many shadows! Oh, I'm being told that cinematographer John Alton shot it that way on purpose. So that's where the noir comes in.

Montalbán, from Mexico by the way, said this was one of the few movies he made in which he was allowed to portray a Mexican. The narration that opens and closes the picture gets a bit jingoistic, but if you can get past that, the rewards are there with a story that is before its time, a visual presence that is stunning and acting that surpasses what might have been expected from MGM's tight purse strings.

Mexico's L.A. Cetto Winery offers a wide range of wines from the Valle de Guadalupe, just across the border. They make a nice Nebbiolo that sells for around $20 and is readily available in the U.S. 

One, Two, Three deals with a different border - that which existed in 1961 between the two halves of Germany. Directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, it's what the blurb writers used to call a Laff Riot, but you'd expect nothing less from Wilder. 

The film is set in West Berlin, before the wall between east and west was built. James Cagney delivers a tour de force performance as a big wig with the Coca Cola Company. He is called upon by his boss in Atlanta to play host to the big guy's teenage, southern belle daughter - who gets hitched to a card-carrying commie while vacationing in the Rhineland. Horst Buchholtz turns in a stellar job as the Red Devil from the East, while Pamela Tiffin scores as the impressionable Lady Coke. 

Spätburgunder is the German version of Pinot Noir, even though it sounds like Jimmy Cagney responding to a sneeze. Rudolf Fürst is considered a "magician" with the grape, and his wines run in the $30 range. One: buy the movie! Two: buy the wine! Three: enjoy your evening! Go!

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Friday, February 24, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Raquel Welch Week

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 look back fondly at the late Raquel Welch. We will also lift a glass to her with a wine pairing for each of these films in which she graced the screen. However, my personal favorite Raquel moment is when she showed her comedic chops on television - playing a diva'd up version of herself on Seinfeld.

The movie that put Ms. Welch on the map was One Million Years BC, back in 1966. Never mind the anachronisms - humans and dinosaurs did not roam the earth together. But if they did, the humans surely would have been dressed in fur bikinis. Standing around ogling the females, though, would still get you branded as a neanderthal from the Rock tribe.

Aside from the spectacle of Raquel in a fur bikini - the iconic poster of which was used in The Shawshank Redemption - special effects from the great Ray Harryhausen are worth watching. In fact, whether you prefer the Harryhausen stop-action or the fur bikini probably says a lot about you.

The movie established Welch as a full-blown sex symbol, a tag that stayed with her throughout her career. She did overcome that stigma by showing time and again that she had acting chops and was more than a pretty face.

Well, some bubbles to celebrate Raquel would certainly be in order, especially since she starred in a commercial for Freixenet in 1985. The cava - that's the Spanish bubbly wine - sells for around $10 in most places and tastes as good as a sparkler from a higher price range.

1970 saw Welch starring in Myra Breckinridge, the sex-change comedy adapted from Gore Vidal's novel. The movie was so bad that Vidal later looked around, pointed at himself and said, "Me? Nah, I didn't write that."

Most critics felt that "comedy" was an unfair description of the film, since the humor was thought to be as tasteless as anything that had ever splattered against the big screen. It received an X rating due to the graphic sexual content - and maybe due to the general crappiness of the feature. Today it has a cult following, proving that there is actually an audience for everything.

The one-sheet movie poster may be the best thing about Myra, as it has Welch again donning a bikini - this time a star-spangled one.

Continental Divide Winery is in Breckenridge, Colorado. Although spelled a bit differently than Myra's name, they boast that they are the world's highest altitude winery. That's a claim that may draw a quibble from some winemaker in the Andes Mountains. Continental Divide makes their Winter Is Coming red blend from Colorado grapes and sells it at California prices. 

Fantastic Voyage was from 1966, but just before the cavewoman epic. It stars Welch as one of a team of scientists who are miniaturized and injected into a human so they can clear a blood clot in the guy's brain. Right, it's unbelievable, but it's science fiction, so suspend your sense of what is possible now. 

The producers had yet to get the memo that Raquel in a bikini equals butts in the seats, but they were kind enough to provide a form-fitting inner-space suit for her to wear. 

Voyage is actually a pretty good sci-fi, one that still holds up today. The movie got a handful of Oscar nominations and won a pair of them, for art direction and special effects.

I ran across a cocktail named Fantastic Voyage - Riesling, whiskey and vanilla liqueur, if you're interested - although I would imagine its greatest appeal is to fans of vanilla liqueur. Voyager Estate makes wine along Australia's Margaret River, and their Shiraz goes for about $40.

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Friday, February 17, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - 70s Scuzz

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 take a look at a few movies which detail some of the more disreputable aspects of the Me Decade. We will try to class up the joint a bit with wine pairings for each film.

Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston 40-Brick Lost-Bag Blues is a 1972 film based on the novel from two years earlier. I think I read the book, but I'm not sure that I ever saw the movie back then - but, there is an awful lot from that era that I don't remember.

The film does feature John Lithgow's first role, as a drug dealer's second banana. It's a pretty cool read, if I remember correctly. It's a sort of hip thriller aimed at those daring souls who stuffed a dime bag in their sock after scoring some weed. Those were the days. It's just not the same, buying pot in a boutique shop.

Now, for a fake wine pairing. First off, Wakey Wines is owned by a convicted drug dealer. He was even bounced from Tik Tok for posting things that were not true - sort of like how Trump got kicked off Twitter. And just as Trump was reinstated on that platform, Tik Tok gave the Wakey guy his megaphone back. His social media shows him dealing nothing but scuzz here in the 21st century. 

Coca wine was a blend of wine and cocaine, but it fell on hard times when cocaine was banned in the US in 1914. When alcohol was banned six years later, coca wine found itself s.o.l.

I have had fun exploring the scuzzy wine pairing possibilities for Dealing, but it's time to actually deliver the goods, with a real wine pairing for the film. If you do enough dealing, you're bound to get busted. Busted Grapes Winery is in upstate New York - about as upstate as it gets. The winery is in a placid community called Black River, just outside of Watertown, away from Lake Ontario. They make wines from those cold-hardy grapes - Marquette, Catawba, Niagara, Frontenac. No prices are given, but they can't cost that much, can they? And, they ship.

Fuzz was a 1972 action comedy. As a 1972 action comedy, could it have starred anyone else but Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch? A better looking pair of detectives you'd be hard pressed to find. And Reynolds was fresh off his centerfold appearance in Cosmo. But wait, there's more! For the same low price, you also get Jack Weston, Tom Skerrit and Yul Brenner - crazy man, crazy. If you call before midnight tonight, we'll throw in the fabulous Peter Bonerz, whose work on The Bob Newhart Show made him a dentist forever. The story, eh, well, did we mention it stars Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch?

I didn't expect this pairing to be so easy. Fuzz, the Gamay wine, is made by Brendan Tracey. He also puts his name on wines called Capitalism Rouge, Mellow Yellow and Rue de la Soif - Thirsty Street. He is New Jersey born, raised in California and lives in the land he loves, France. He sells Fuzz for around $35. 

Switchblade Sisters came from 1975, and shares a slice of life from an all-girl high school gang. Now, I went to high school a long time ago, but our "bad girls" were more inclined to give you a hickey than a stab wound. That I do remember. 

These Switchblade Sisters could stand toe-to-toe with the male gangs and go tit for tat with the violence. Shootings, murders, assaults, knifings - and that's all before fourth period. 

It could have been called The Jezebels, but the producers reportedly didn't think viewers would know what that meant. The film was destined to fall into obscurity, but it got a new lease on life as a cult classic when Quentin Tarantino cited it as a personal fave and re-released it. There's a guy who knows a Jezebel when he sees one. 

Oregon's Willful Wine Company is apparently among those who are not equipped with a working definition for Jezebel. That is the name they gave to their Pinot Noir, which they call easy-going, well-balanced and fruit-forward. Well, at $20, at least it's cheap. 

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Friday, February 10, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - The Kitchen Sink Movement

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week, three movies from the early 1960s which make a close examination of some harsh realities. We have wine pairings for each, to take the edge off. 

The Kitchen Sink Movement came about in British arts in the late 1950s. It was an antidote to the prim, fussy attitudes of plays and movies at the time, giving viewers a super-realistic look at life from the seedy underbelly of UK society, whether they wanted it or not.

In 1962's The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, the British version of reform school gets a long look. Tom Courtenay takes the lead in his Borstal training and discovers that the lead is something he can choose to give up. Courtenay's character finds out that there is little else to do while running long distances than obsess over the poor life choices that put him under lock and key. Dead dad? Tough. Caught stealing? Too bad. Legs feel tired? C'mon, lad. 

In their Ooh La La album, the Faces made Borstal life sound more like an adventure than the penitential slap in the face it was. "We're up here boy, and you're down there, and don't you forget it." Maybe a good long run will help him forget. Or, maybe not. Forgetting isn't easy. 

Ghostrunner makes only one blend - Cab and Petite Sirah from the Central Coast. But, no matter how far you run - there you are. Drink up, but allow a half hour before undertaking a 5k.

In 1963, Tom Courtenay took the lead again in Billy Liar. His character has a sort of Thurberesque way of dealing with the unpleasantness of his mundane life. He imagines himself to be a hero in some more consequential scenario. Imagining is the extent of his bravado, however, which is underscored when he falls for a gal who seems to have the gumption to actually reach for the fruit that is higher up in the tree.

Does Billy Liar have what it takes to bring himself into full sociopathic bloom? No. He daydreams when he could think, shrugs when he could act. Even when presented with the prospect of the marvelous Julie Christie. He's doomed to live his life in the shadows of what he imagines himself to be. And that's probably good for all concerned if Alex from A Clockwork Orange is seen as the result of his natural evolution. 

Red 55 Winery has White Liar Chardonnay available for less than $20. The song of that name was a big hit for Miranda Lambert in 2009, in case you had forgotten. Red 55 is run by the family of that Texas songstress. If it makes you feel any better about purchasing from a celebrity winery which features Valentine's Day party packs, a wine called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and an Electric Pink White Zinfandel, it was named after Miranda's first pickup truck, a red '55 stepside. 

Sidney Furie's The Leather Boys is about a gay biker in London's rocker subculture. The film was pretty steamy for its time and has been hailed as a watershed moment in queer cinema. Everybody seems to be sleeping with everybody else, and no one is really all that happy about it. Ah, life in the south London suburbs - all the grit, at no extra charge.

There is an unhappy marriage, a fake pregnancy, a motorcycle race, a homosexual encounter and a dream of a better life in America dashed on the rocks by the gay pub. 

I was tempted to pair a wine from the southern Rhône Valley with this film, due to the hint of leather one would expect on the nose. Then I found this Paso Robles Zinfandel from Four Vines, The Biker. The label shows a young lady biker who has limited the leather to her head and feet, opting for lace elsewhere.

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Friday, February 3, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Going Aloft

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 look up, up and away for a trio of flying films. Of course, there are wine pairings for each.

Test Pilot, from 1938, stars Clark Gable, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy, who were three of Hollywood's top box office draws of the day. The film was directed by Victor Fleming, who also directed another movie featuring flying, but in this one the house stays on the ground and there are no munchkins in the script. However, a farm in Kansas is involved. 

The script, by the way, was based on a story by a real-life pilot who also served as a co-writer. The tale has Gable and Spencer as flyboy buddies with a woman between them. As you might expect, only one of the buddies makes it out alive. I mean, it's a romantic drama, not a romantic comedy.

The movie was a big hit with critics and paying customers alike. The flying sequences are still lauded today due to their realism and use of the latest aircraft of the era. There is a certain cachet to watching a film in which the B-17 bomber was considered cutting-edge. 

George Cooper was an actual NASA test pilot who turned to winemaking with his wife, Louise Garrod. The Garrod Farms Test Pilot wines are named after all the planes Cooper flew, including his description of them on the back label. Try the F-104 Starfighter, a Côtes-Rôtie-style co-fermentation of Syrah and Viognier. There are six wines in the line, so a half case would be fine, especially if you plan to watch Test Pilot repeatedly.

Someone must have thought airborne romance was a good idea, because a year later, in 1939, Howard Hawks helmed Only Angels Have Wings. Hawks was involved in Test Pilot, so his head stayed in the clouds awhile. 

This time around, it's Cary Grant and Jean Arthur who provide the earthbound sparks, while the flying scenes again drew kudos from those who appreciate a good shot of an airplane doing its thing. The next time you're at an air show, look around. The people closest to the action are the audience for this film.

These pilots deliver air mail over the Andes Mountains, which seems like a more dangerous occupation to settle for than for most flyers of that ilk. Today, they would probably be flying a rocket full of gaskets to the space station. The planes are once again co-stars, with a Ford Trimotor serving as a dramatic vehicle. "Engine number one is on fire!" "Engine number two is on fire!" "How many engines did you say this crate has?"

Cheval des Andes is the South American branch of Château Cheval Blanc, the great Bordeaux estate. Their blends utilize Argentine Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon mainly, and run on the high or low side of $100, depending on the vintage. 

These days, a title like The High and the Mighty might be taken as an ad for cannabis delivery. Back in 1954, it was taken as Big John Wayne's most recent action flick. It was also a precursor to all those disaster films which would come decades later - and to the spoofs of said films. This was the first movie in which Robert Stack picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue, although this time as the pilot, not the ground crew, as in Airplane.

The flight takes off from Honolulu, headed for San Francisco, and endures engine failure, a fuel leak, a passenger with a gun, and the looming prospect of ditching the DC-4 in the ocean. All-in-all, there is considerably more trouble than just running low on peanuts.

The flight attendant has to deal with a multitude of personalities, which make those scenes look like Airplane by way of Gilligan's Island. There's an actress, a millionaire, a former beauty queen, a giddy tourist, and a guy with a terminal illness and a pocket watch. There is no record of The Professor and/or Mary Ann on board.

An airliner really is not the best place for drinking wine. The higher altitude robs us of our sense of taste, while the dry air in the cabin saps our sense of smell and further inhibits our taste buds. How else do you think they get away with that airline food? The best bet for a wine for the Mile High Club is one with higher alcohol and lower acidity, so the diminished senses still have something to work with. Try a Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay or Viognier for a better tasting experience. 

Wine Enthusiast magazine says Cathay Pacific has the best in-flight wine program, followed by Etihad Airways, Qatar Airlines, LAN Airlines, Singapore Airlines, ANA, SWISS, Virgin-Atlantic, Qantas and British Airways. I generally get a martini while flying first class to Saint-Tropez, but it's entirely up to you. 


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