9 wines for 9 films.
You still have a few days to brush up on the top nominated films for this year’s Academy Awards before crushing the competition in your office Oscar pool. The contenders for Best Picture are some of the most gut wrenching, inspirational, and thought provoking to grace the screen in years, requiring hours of home viewing sessions to make a final pick. Not sure what to drink while watching? I’ve gone ahead and paired a bottle with each nominee based on style compatibility. All you need is glassware, a corkscrew and a TV.
Considered by many to be the most intellectual of red Burgundies, Chambolle-Musigny wines are exceptionally nuanced. And although they appear more delicate than, say Gevery-Chambertins, they unfold beautifully in the glass, revealing extra dimensions and layers of flavor—much like professor Louise Bank’s storyline in the science fiction movie.
Wine: Etna Rosso
Why? Troy, Rose, and Cory Maxson find themselves enwrapped in family conflict against a larger backdrop of evolving race relations in urban Pittsburgh in the 1950s. The film’s supporting characters—Rose and Cory—display grace under trying circumstances, which could also describe the rich, expressive Nerello Mascalese-based reds grown on Sicily’s Mount Etna (an active volcano).
Try: 2014 Benanti ‘Rosso di Verzella’ Etna Rosso ($21)
World War II Army medic Desmond Doss fights the same fight as his fellow soldiers but with a different set of rules: he refuses to fire a single shot. Similarly, Saint-Bris—the Chablis-adjacent appellation—bucks Burgundian tradition by not using Chardonnay grapes. Instead, its vineyards are dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc.
Try: 2014 Clotilde Davenne Saint-Bris Sauvignon ($20)
Hell or High Water
Wine: Texas Wine
What better pairing for a dangerous and action-packed flick about two brothers robbing banks to save their family’s West Texas Ranch? The state is home to over 4,500 acres of vines and grows everything from Chardonnay to Tannat, but you’ll want a big red with rugged tannins to capture the spirit of the Howard brothers’ plight.
Try: 2015 William Chris Texas Mourvèdre ($36)
Why? Muscadet was long considered the underdog appellation of France’s Loire Valley—dismissed as insipid and incapable of producing wine as compelling as nearby Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé. In recent years, sommeliers have championed the category for its mineral depth and pairability, just as Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson’s story has finally been told in this inspiring biographical drama.
La La Land
Why? This romantic musical picture is whimsical and crowd-pleasing in its portrayal of a young couple trying to make it as struggling artists in modern day Los Angeles. Prosecco is similarly spirited—bright, bubbly, and fruit-forward, with many renditions also displaying a serious, mineral side.
Wine: Australian Shiraz
Why? Lion tells the story of a young Indian boy who grows up in in Australia after being separated from his mother and brother. Many years later, he sets out on a quest to rediscover his true origins. Shiraz has a displacement story of its own, developing a reputation down under for producing inky, jammy reds that share little in common with the savory, spice-laced Syrahs from the grape’s original home—France’s northern Rhône Valley. Now, more Aussie wineries are dabbling in Old World-style versions and reclaiming the ‘Syrah’ name.
Try: 2012 BK Wines ‘Cult’ Adelaide Hills Syrah ($45)
Manchester by the Sea
Why? In Manchester, an uncle deals with painful emotions and internal struggle as he returns home care for his orphaned teenage nephew. The Mourvèdre-based reds of Bandol, like Lee Chandler, have a hard exterior, needing time to open, mellow, and show their true complexity. Both hail from windswept, coastal areas.
Try: 2012 Château de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge ($43)
Wine: Canary Island Red
Why? Moonlight chronicles the difficult and awkward childhood of Chiron, also called ‘Little,’ as he comes of age in a rough Miami neighborhood. Wine grapes planted in the Spanish archipelago off the coast of northwest Africa similarly struggle to grow, since the vineyards are rather volcanic ash fields—the plants crouched low into black moonscape-like craters to protect them from harsh winds. It’s an unforgiving environment, to be sure, but the result is truly unique mineral character.
Try: 2012 Los Bermejos Lanzarote Listán Negro ($24)