Heavy metal drinking is really the only excuse for naming a wine Sledgehammer. Either that, or you're a mega-millions corporate exec type trying to hook us on
cheap inexpensive wine (see #2 when you turn the page). And so begets a Top Ten list involving Black Sabbath. And Whitney. Because how could we leave out Whitney Houston? Of course we couldn't. Turn up the volume, take another sip, and see if it all doesn't just sound a little better. Turn the page for our Top Ten Wine And Band Pairings.
10. Whitney Houston and High Note Malbec:
Cheesy wine name? Sure, but Whitney Houston really can hit those high notes. Actually, judging by that Brisbane concert earlier this year, maybe not so much anymore ("she couldn't entertain a dead rat, to be honest," said one peeved audience member). So we suggest popping this Argentinian Malbec at home, with a really good steak. Because at $13 a bottle, we'll agree with Wine Enthusiast that this wine is a bargain buy for the quality. Or at least a whole lot cheaper than concert tickets and much tastier than a dead rat. (Full disclosure: We've only smelled, not actually tasted, a dead rat.)
9. Gregorian and Franciscan Estate Napa Sauvignon Blanc:
We all have those days when what we're really craving is a band that performs Gregorian chant-inspired versions of rock songs, don't we? We recommend you keep a few bottles of this bright, fruity $17 Franciscan Sauvignon Blanc on hand for this month's release of that new album, The Dark Side of the Chant as there are Depeche Mode and Madonna remakes involved.
8. Air Supply and Two Buck Chuck:
7. A Great Song By A Mediocre Band and Il Valore Sangiovese:
Exactly the opposite of Two Buck Chuck, this Sangiovese is medium bodied, acidic, food-friendly (especially with tomato meat sauce) Italian wine. Brilliant? As it's all of $3 at our local Trader Joe's right now, apparently reduced from $6, you already know the answer. This wine is more like great songs by mediocre bands (yes, there is Facebook page for that) -- handy to have around when the mood strikes.
6. Duke Ellington and Antinori Toscana Bianco:
Antinori's Trebbiano-Malvasia blend with a little Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio tossed into the mix is produced on a vineyard that dates to 1931, a light era-appropriate $10 bottle for Duke Ellington, who was just starting his big band upswing at the time with the release of "It Don't Mean a Thing If You Ain't Got That Swing" -- or was it swig? (Sorry).
5. Elvis Costello And The Attractions and Clos de los Siete:
With Costello, you need a wine that can weather the thought-provoking drudgery -- but in a good way. Something "Down Among the Wine and Spirits" buried in the back of your wine cellar (a 1982 Bordeaux if you're lucky). Or that Clos de Los Siete, a solid Argentinian red blend for under $20, would work.
4. Dave Matthews Band and Blenheim Red Table Wine:
Dave Matthews' vineyard is a postcard-perfect farm in Virginia that he and his wife converted into the Blenheim winery ten years ago. Why a vineyard? As he told Food and Wine, it was simply "a little fantasy. As in, 'Let's not do this to make money, let's just make the best wine we can.' We had the luxury of my being overpaid." Gotta love a multi-millionaire who's honest about pet projects. His brother, Peter, tends the vines and his friend Brad McCarthy, who learned the craft at Acacia in Carneros, is the winemaker.
3. Renée Fleming and Rochioli Estate Pinot Noir:
The Times of London calls Fleming's voice "as warm and rich as a fine single malt." We say as fine as a Rochioli Russian River Valley estate Pinot Noir. This small third generation family-owned winery has Italian roots (Joe Rochioli, Sr., an Italian immigrant, began growing grapes here in 1938), and the soprano sure has a thing with those Italian opera tunes. Those estate Pinots are the sort that require lingering around on waiting lists until a spot opens so you can buy your high-dollar allocation. Actually, not unlike landing premier seats at the L.A. Opera.
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2. Black Sabbath and Sledgehammer Cabernet:
If you like your wines, like your music, big and in your face (lots of banging around, with crazy, in-your-face fruit), we suggest Sledgehammer's $13 Cabernet. The next-growth value-line sales hopefuls from Foster's are brash with their 14%+ ABV and over the top fruit (there is also a Zinfandel). But we presume those buying The Rules of Hell or picking up a few bottles of wine with a name like Sledgehammer aren't exactly after delicate nuances.
1. Any Band You Hate and Napa Valley Vodka:
Wine just isn't going to cut it for [enter your least favorite band here]. For those moments, you really something stronger like this just-released Napa Valley Vodka, dubbed the first such spirit made from Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc grapes from a single vintage/single estate (which means those are high dollar distilling ingredients). More on the vodka later. But right now, the Macarena just came back on, and we need another.