Vino with that film?: The Kids Are All Right inspires a cinematic wine list

Slide 1: The Kids Are All Right with Wine

More than a few viewers of Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy The Kids Are All Right have noticed the sophisticated palette the film shows when it comes to wine. While the film is not about wine, the pairing of wine to scene––for those in the know––spoke magnums about the characters. When Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) invite their newly discovered sperm-donor (Mark Ruffalo) home for dinner to meet the kids––Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), they keep things simple and fresh: a hot-dog barbeque with a Petite Sirah from Kalyra, a Santa Barbara boutique vineyard. Such cinematic wine savvy made us wonder how we might pair films with wine. We turned to screenwriter and wine connoisseur Howard A. Rodman to help us out by pairing a wine––or, in one case, liquor––with a favorite Focus Features film. So grab a glass and follow along.

Slide 2: Atonement and 1935 Barbeito Bual Madeira

Atonement calls for a Port, a Sherry, or, even better, a Madeira. The best Madeira were casked, then sent on long ocean trips to develop their character: vina da roda (“wines of the round voyage”). One of those, a 1935 Barbeito Bual Madeira, will lead you to those extraordinary gardens, so full of elegance, passion, mendacity.

Slide 3: A Serious Man and Vinedo de Los Vientos 'Alcyone'

A Serious Man calls for a serious beverage – something doomstruck and dense. There should be a sense of fatalism in each desperate gulp. When the truth is found to be lies, we recommend Vinedo de Los Vientos 'Alcyone,’ a fortified Uruguayan dessert wine made from Tannat. The sweetness will recall the suburban bar mitzvahs of your youth, but there’s enough grip and undertow to remind you that things can always get worse.

Slide 4: Lost in Translation and Suntory

Lost in Translation should, of course, only be viewed while sipping Suntory. “For relaxing times, it’s Suntory Time!”

Slide 5: The Motorcycle Diaries and 1977 Estrella from Bodega Weinert

The Motorcycle Diaries deserves to be paired with something soulful, revelatory, Argentinian. The modern-day international-style imitation Bordeaux coming out of Argentina today are the antithesis of everything Che stood for. This fine film needs something older, more honest, with a bit of Borges, a bit of the gaucho, and a sense of life’s sweet contradictions. Lift a glass of 1977 Estrella from Bodega Weinert while quoting your favorite passage from Gramsci.

Slide 6: Shaun of the Dead and Frappato of Andrea Occhipinti

What to drink with Shaun of the Dead?  Something zombielike, of course, with enough residual insouciance to make the job of drinking it less than somber. I’d suggest the Frappato of Andrea Occhipinti. The Frappato is a cheerful wine, grown on the slopes of Mount Etna: the bones of long-dead Pompeians in every delightful sip.

Slide 7: Far From Heaven and Giacomo Conterno's Barolo Monfortino

The elegance and depth of Far From Heaven deserves an expression of fruit, tannin, poignance, melancholy, and regret. A wine that satisfies on first sip, then opens up in the glass to reveal tastes and emotions far more profound. Giacomo Conterno’s Barolo Monfortino is such a wine. A bottle of the 1982 will take you to the precipice, then gently guide you all the way back home. Alternative choice: a 1976 Lopez de Heredia Bosconia Gran Reserva.

Slide 8: Taking Woodstock and Boone's Farm Apple Wine

The canonical pairing for Taking Woodstock would be something cheap, youth-friendly, and of its time: Boone’s Farm Apple Wine (NV). Along with Night Train (the one with the film noir label) and WPLJ (White Port and Lemon Juice, a Zappa favorite), Boone’s Farm Apple Wine was the drink of choice of the upstate New York youth culture. For something with a similar spirit, but organic, updated, and actually drinkable: the delicious artisanal Grenache rosé from A Donkey and Goat Winery.

Slide 9: About the Author

Howard A. Rodman is a screenwriter (Savage Grace; August; Joe Gould’s Secret) and a professor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Last year he received an American Squirrel Wine Blog Award in the category “Best Political Blogger Who Should Be a Wine Blogger.”  Read his musings at The Huffington Post.

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