Oscar night, for me, is less about who’s wearing Oscar de la Renta on the Red Carpet as it is about who’s drinking red wine watching a DVD of one of the nine Best Picture nominees. And that would be me, last night, getting “Midnight in Paris” in under the wire of the Academy Awards show, which airs Sunday night. In that spirit, this column is devoted to picking wines for my Oscar picks for some of the top award categories.
"The Descendants" is my pick to sweep Best Picture, Director, Actor for George Clooney and Adapted Screenplay for Alexander Payne. (I included the writing commendation among the “top” awards being a writer myself.)
The film is a family saga about legacy and loyalties. Coppola Wines seem the perfect pairing for this family-owned Sonoma estate winery that boasts Oscar-winning director Mr. Francis Ford himself as owner and family patriarch. Even his best-known masterpiece, “The Godfather,” Best Picture 1972 shared similar theme, and in fact, the label art "Don"ning the Reserve line was by the film's production designer Dean Tavoularis who Coppola met while he was directing it. Just like “The Descendants” extended family, the Coppola family of wines spans generations and personalties, whether it’s a hunky Coppola's Director's Cut Cinema Red or daughter Sophia’s Pink, a novel line of sparklers in a can.
I’d also think about Hitching Post Pinot Noir as homage to screenwriter Alexander Payne, who also penned “Sideways,” the movie that led legions to discover Southern California wines in general and Santa Barbara Pinots specifically, while eschewing all things Merlot. My favorite local wine shop House Red carried Hitching Post for awhile, so I’ve been lucky to try it and can attest to its overall Oscar caliber quality.
For Best Actress, my pick is Meryl Streep in "Iron Lady," mostly because she’s overdue and she took home the Golden Globe in January in what has become the spoiler alert predictor of Academy Award wins. This is a harder match, seeing this movie is about Margaret Thatcher, a challenge considering the Brits are known more for being a beer than wine culture and it’s even hard to imagine Ms. Thatcher kicking back after a long day at Parliament with a glass of wine (seems like she’d be sipping something a little stronger like a classically British gin-and-tonic after a day battling Labor).
If she was, it’d likely be a “claret,” old British vernacular for red wines from Bordeaux but used more generally in the U.S. for any Bordeaux-styled blend of the region’s key varietals, Cabernet, Merlot, and others. You may want to try one in Sonoma’s St. Francis Claret, a blend of Cab, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.
Then again, the Brits love their Port wines, too. And by the time they get to many of these major awards, the show will be reaching past the three hour scheduled broadcast and stealing into its fourth hour (fifth if you count the Red Carpet intro). So maybe a good old Port, a British favorite, will do to cap the night off, especially if Ms. Streep wins. If you don’t want to try Sophia Coppola’s Pink bubbly in a can instead.
So many wines, so many movies. Wishing you a cinematic feast of flavorful wines and films for the Oscars this weekend.