Academy Wine

Am I the only one that forgets that “the Oscars” are actually the Academy Awards? Does it matter? No. No one really cares. What we do care is what movie moved us. Amused us. Turned us on. What movie made us think about something we never did before. And also, who will wear who and who’s gonna put their foot in their mouth and WHO WILL WIN AND DID THE ACADEMY MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION? Moreover, what the f*@k should you drink while watching the nominated movies? PS. not that I have opinions or anything, but CODA is amazing and deserves best picture. But I actually enjoyed (almost) every Best Picture nom this year. I won’t tell you which ones I didn’t like, but maybe you can tell by my drink pairings. Here are the nominated films, and the delights to drink with them. CODA Did I save my best movie for first? Maybe. Moving on. But in terms of themes…In CODA, a deaf family relies on their hearing daughter to help them out, so what does she do? Discovers her exceptional singing voice. The irony. And yet what got me started on the CODA wine pairing chase was when the father is indignant that the mom bought a bottle of red for dinner that cost 15 bucks. So, heading to the grocery and seeking an enjoyable 15 or under red was my MO. Fortunately, Irony Pinot Noir retails under 15 bucks, and you know what? For that price point, I’m down. 2019 Irony Monterey County Pinot Noir For supermarket wine, this is tasty. I was enthused to see it was from Monterey as I’m a fan of the region as a whole. This tasted a little riper than I’d expect out of it but I don’t mind. It’s rather dark fruited and smooth. Not too simple but simple enough. And CODA is good, so you aren’t going to be focused on your wine anyway. NIGHTMARE ALLEY This is a tale of mentalists gone mental. It is dark. It is gruesome. It is humanity via Guillermo del Toro’s mind. What to drink? NOT wood alcohol. That’s the first thought. The second is some classy-ass scotch or just your favorite whiskey that you imagine Cate Blanchett tempting Bradley Cooper with as she does in those pivotal office scenes. But in reality, how’s about some fun Scotch Whiskey ? Class it up. My favorite Scotch is either fancy Glenmorangie (the Nectar d’Or Single Malt ); but in the more day-to-day range, I’m gonna go with this Tomatin . Tomatin 12-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Tomatin is a favorite in general, from their more basic (and budget friendly) offerings to the pricy and bespoke. Not too smoky or peaty nor too grain-forward or caramelly. Fab-tastic balance as far as Scotches go. Smells of stewed oats and greens in one garnished with baking spices. Tastes of more starches and the brown sugar is doing full on chiaroscuro with savory elements. DON’T LOOK UP A comet is coming to end Earth, and no one will take it seriously. If the world was ending, what WOULD I drink? I think there are three different directions I might go and, who-am-I-kidding, I’d likely do all three if lifetime allowed. So.. 1) I would share a bottle of my most expensive wine I’ve been hanging on to because it's expensive AND/OR 2) Open something I’d been holding on to for sentimental reasons, like it was a region I had visited, or a winemaker gave it to me AND/OR 3) Honestly, I would gravitate to wines that make me feel good and happy even if they are not fancy or particularly special. Which in my case would be Tavel. I tend to hoard Tavel because I love it so much. My screw-it-the-world is ending Tavel of the moment is: 2020 Domaine de la Morderee La Dame Rousse Tavel Rosé Exuberance-galore on the nose (strawberries and watermelon! White pepper! Potting soil!), all somewhat chiseled on the palate with cutting minerality and juicy acidity. It’s so complex, you’ll pick up new things on every sniff n sip. Tavel forever. Or at least until the comet hits. DUNE I don’t even know how to start explaining Dune except it is the rise of a royal son whose duke father is in charge of a desert planet where seriously important spices are harvested, but the big thing is—survival in the desert. In a world (worlds? I am still not an expert on Dune as I never read the books and was a half hour late to the movie; not my fault, I blame LA traffic!), a boy/man slash duke-to-be is thrust into a position of leadership. Part of what gets them through, at least practically, are the “stillsuits”, that recycle the moisture of the bodies sweat and such so ya know, they don’t die of dehydration. Anyway, pair this movie with water. Fresh delicious ice-cold water. DRIVE MY CAR This movie is about theatre people working through heartbreak and heart-unthawing. And the scenes of them rehearsing Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” give me flashbacks to being an acting major, and all the rehearsal time that goes into it, at the same time as appearing in my first Equity play (it was Macbeth!) which was nearly a fulltime job. Between school and around seven shows a week…all I wanted was coffee. Option number two: Japanese whiskey to drown the pain of life. If you’ve ever read Chekhov, you get it. I’m tempted to say pair either of the above with a cigarette as there’s a fair amount of cathartic smoking action in “Drive My Car”. As an ex-smoker, I can tell you that cigarettes with whiskey and cigarettes and coffee are classic but I can’t in good conscience recommend that as I care about lungs, yours and mine. Actually, maybe this should be a warning to make sure there aren’t cigarettes nearby if you are tempted. But a wee bit of whiskey and/or some robust coffee can’t go (too) wrong. BELFAST Religious strife. Black and white. Kids. Family. Violence. Hugs. You need tea. Tea? Look, that tea with anything but disappointing Turkish delight. Maybe pair it with family time. Tea and family, there ya go. LICORICE PIZZA Ah, the age-old tale of a twenty-five-year-old woman and fifteen-year-old boy/actor/ambitious-AF-kid who have adventures in the San Fernando Valley. Should I be excited for a film where the woman is older for once? Maybe, but also, ew. He’s 15. At one point the young woman finds herself at dinner with people she is trying to impress, and she orders a martini. When asked “vodka or gin” she orders “vodka-gin” and when asked “olive or lime” simply replies “yes”. Because she doesn’t know martinis. So, my recipe for a Licorice Pizza Mind Killer is: 1 oz vodka , 1 oz gin , dash of whatever, could be dry vermouth or not. This film is so tangential and all over the place (don’t get me wrong, normally I love Paul Thomas Anderson), it really doesn’t matter ugh. Throw an olive in there, garnish with lime. Whatever. Dig the soundtrack. Luxuriate in the multiple montages of the leads running exuberantly for no discernible reason, drink, and move on. Or find free Pepsi. THE POWER OF THE DOG Wowza did this film pack a punch. I am not sure how to even summarize it beyond that it is rife with toxic masculinity that takes a toll. I don’t know that there is a whimsical way to pair with this film without seeming disrespectful. So I am pairing it with a wine where it was shot. The movie takes place in Montana but was shot in New Zealand, so how about some good ol’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc? Don’t mind if I do. 2020 Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Smells passion fruit and tangerine-y AF. With underlying a slice of just-ripe peach presented on a pebble. I know, I’m sorry. Dry. You get more citrus, like ripppppe citrus on the palate and yeah, just those soupçons of grass n gooseberry. This wine feels polished. WEST SIDE STORY We all know this Romeo & Juliet-inspired tale, yeah? I felt that a drink hailing from Puerto Rico would be appropriate. My googling revealed quite a few, but of all the drinks I read about, I was entranced by an Chichaíto. White rum and a licorice-flavored liqueur and oh! Oops I only have absinthe at home, but hey, I’m gonna give it a go. So…yeah, I combined white rum and absinthe and I shook it hard over ice. It’s a lot, but so is gang violence borne of racism. F*@k. KING RICHARD + LARGE FORMAT CHAMPAGNE (FOR A WORKOUT) This is the story of the rise of the Williams sisters and the determined father/coach that shepherded them into tennis superstardom. After watching, I wondered what I could match with a movie about underaged tennis stars…Gatorade? As someone who had problems with sodium retention, I do love Gatorade—especially the fruit punch or any of the blue flavors that taste blue. Fortunately, some googling told me Venus Williams hosted her sister Serena, as well as comedian Amy Schumer, on one of her live Instagram workouts, and they used wine bottles as part of it—including balancing Champagne bottles on their heads. So…Champagne it is! Pick your favorite. Preferably large format. Do some bicep curls with the bottle first then maybe don’t balance it unless you have the money to not worry about breaking the bottle. And then crack that Champagne open when you watch the awards. Especially if whoever you were routing for wins and/or you win something for having the most accurate predictions. Not telling you mine. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: In Honor of Women’s History Month Ellen in Lalaland: Enter the Valley The Riesling Chronicles, Part One: Old vs. New Love Wine The Art of Wine Labels You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! With Maryam Ahmed Wine Situation Final Five! With Lamar Woods

Domaine de la Mordorée

La Dame Rousse Tavel Rosé Blend 2020

Woooo-eeeee do I love my Tavel. Bursting at the seams on the nose while cutting a figure on the palate, it’s like if a Betsey Johnson dress had an affair with a Chanel suit. So much strawberry and watermelon and white pepper on the nose with a hint of…okay something that almost makes me think of Hawaiian sweet bread oddly (but not unhappily) enough. With a hint of your friendly neighborhood potting soil. The palate is dry and sharp, with healthy acidity and a nice wet rock backbone, in addition to all the red fruited juicy goodness. The texture is lightweight satin, which is to say heavier than silk but not heavy as satin but with that smoothness. Omigod Tavel you guys. Get into it. It’s the wine for people who say they only drink red and also the wine for people who only drink white. — 2 years ago

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Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020

If you are in the mood for a NZ Sauvignon Blanc that’s not tooo New Zealand here ya go. I like this one. Passion fruit and tangerines. Peach and pebbles. And just a touch of grass and gooseberry to remind you this is NZ Sauvignon Blanc — 2 years ago

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Monterey County Pinot Noir 2019

Simple but one could do worse for supermarket Pinot. And literary me appreciates the name — 2 years ago

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