Why Winemaking Rocks

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Despite all the smart marketing and hard wee-hours work in the world, it remains a challenge for a celebrity wine producer, particularly a musician, to be taken seriously, especially since rockers have famously short attention spans (this year it's wine, next year it may be saving the hedgehog). But there's certainly nothing frivolous about Dave Matthews' Blenheim Vineyards. He bought more than 1,200 acres of land near his home in Charlottesville, Virginia, to save them from developers, then turned some of those acres into vineyards, where he has created more than a dozen different wines, all of them extremely affordable. Expanding his wine reach, recently Matthews—along with his winemaker Steve Reeder—set up a California label, the Dreaming Tree, with the first wines released last year. The name comes from one of his songs, and you can see why he chose that title over some of his others, such as "Shake Me Like a Monkey."

The lads in AC/DC have no such inhibitions, however. Their wines, newly available in the U.S., include Back in Black Shiraz and You Shook Me All Night Long Moscato. You may wonder if you want your wine shaken all night long (or at all), but since the AC/DC catalog also includes tracks such as "Inject the Venom" and "She's Got Balls," you know it might have been a lot worse.

If your favorite band isn't yet producing its own vintage and you have anxiety about which wine to drink while listening to various albums, a company named Wines That Rock aims to put your mind at rest—it produces wine that supposedly matches classic albums. It reckons its Cabernet Sauvignon goes with Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, the Merlot accompanies the Rolling Stones' Forty Licks, and its Chardonnay is the very thing to capture the feel of several days spent in a muddy field at an event that was eventually declared a disaster area, a.k.a. Woodstock. I can see even bigger challenges ahead. What goes with the Stones' Goats Head Soup, Frank Zappa's Lumpy Gravy, or Snoop Dogg's The Last Meal? Perhaps they're working on it right now.

There are two songs I'd personally nominate to inspire rock-loving winemakers. One is "A Bottle of Wine and Patsy Cline," written by Lindy Gravelle and a hit for Marsha Thornton in 1990, a fine song about the things you need to get you through the night—but it doesn't specify what kind of wine is in that bottle. The other is Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Alligator Wine," the lyrics of which even contain a recipe of sorts: alligator blood, frog skin, the left eye of a fish, and a cup of "green swamp water" are all involved. It may not sound immediately appetizing, but with the right musical winemaker behind it, I believe it could be number one with a bullet.

Geoff Nicholson's books include The Food Chain and The Lost Art of Walking. He blogs about food at Psycho-Gourmet. His last contribution to Gourmet Live was What (and How) to Eat Naked.

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