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A Couch, a Film and a Bottle of Wine: Pairing Movie Night with the Perfect Wine

Film Wine Feature

Staying in and watching a movie doesn’t need to be a sweatpants and t-shirt affair. Pair a classic movie with a wine that compliments its mood and nuances and you’ll have an impressive evening she won’t forget.

By R.K. Gella

Date three has been given the green and you’ve chosen a casual affair with an evening of intimate basics: a couch, a film and a bottle of wine. Assembly here is at a novice level, however sub quality ingredients can render this recipe vapid and stale.

An uncomfortable couch incites a soar back; a lame film, irrevocable boredom; a haphazardly selected bottle of wine, indifference. Each of these malfunctions can thrust your night into an awkward state of limbo. And as we already know purgatory is not sexy.

Yet, suffice it to say, if you’ve decided upon this production, it’s probable that you’ve taken account for the couch and the film, circumventing the aforementioned troubleshoots.

What About the Wine?

As in selecting an appropriate film to fit the evening, choosing a wine goes beyond the options of good and bad. Pairing the proper wine is all about enhancing a mood. It should tantalize and beguile, and pique the senses.

When pairing wine with food the goal tends to be more than solely balancing the nuances of a dish, as a thoughtfully chosen bottle can compliment an entire experience. Yes, a robust Spanish Monastrell will hold to an entree of Tonnarelli (thick spaghetti) with eggplant, tomato and ricotta salata, but wouldn’t this southern Italian dish make more sense with a bottle of Sangiovese from southern Italy?

Perhaps. All of it is subjective in the end, but in case you’re looking to set just the right tone; here are 10 pairings to aid you on your couch date.

Casablanca

Casablanca (1942)

Pairing: Hugel & Fils Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France, 2005, $19.00 USD

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An easy choice for a couch date, this Bogart – Bergman classic has held up to time. A story of love and sacrifice set in Morocco during WW2, the film is full of timeless one-liners and a venerable soundtrack fitting for a love affair.

The chosen white wine is from Alsace, on the boarder of France and Germany, although it permeates with exotic spices from Moroccan, Chinese, and Indonesian cuisine. Its sophisticated structure, balanced between dry and velvety, is as complex as Rick Blaine’s conflict between love and virtue.

Casino Royale (2006)

Pairing: Sierra Cantabria Organza Blanco, Rioja, Spain, 2005, $25.00 USD

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This modern version of Ian Flemming’s classic novel is sexy, sleek, and emotionally revealing, and a far cry from where Bond began. Set to the backdrop of a high-end poker tournament in Montenegro, the film exhibits a need for a bold, silky white wine.

Cue the characteristics of this white Rioja – the varietal being Viura – that offers masculinity with its oily oak texture and undeniable earthiness, while balancing enough fruit for a feminine palate.

Say Anything (1989)

Pairing: Ameztoi Rubentis, Pais Vasco, Spain, 2007, $21.00 USD

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A throwback with a chance to recapture the essence of high school romance, requited or not. (Warning: Cusack sets the bar high in terms of chivalry and commitment so expect to be judged.) Noted as one of the greatest date films of the modern era it’s an ace in the hole, however it can be tough for a guy to get through.

This slightly effervescent rose wine is from northeast Spain known as the Basque country. Fermented in a similar process to a cider, it is a playful wine to pair, as its balanced acid and tart fruit make it quite easy to drink. Note: It does not taste like a Zima and a Jolly Rancher. (Do they still make Zima?)

Some Like It Hot

Some Like It Hot (1959)

Pairing: Veuve Cliquot Brut Yellow Label NV, Champagne, France, $39.00 USD

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Another Billy Wilder classic, this romp with Marilyn Monroe is sexy, funny and progressive even after fifty years.

A cold bottle of dry sparkling will pair well. The Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay blend perfected by the Cliquot house contains bubbles almost as fine as Ms. Monroe.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Pairing: Elk Cove Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2002, $29.00 USD

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Easily the most magnificent film in Michel Gondry’s canon, this whimsical, yet tragically honest depiction of modern romance is quite a difficult pair. Nothing too heavy to stilt the mind and nothing too light to be lost, an elegant Pinot Noir will suffice.

Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon notes the varietal as “Sex in a Glass.” This Willamette Valley wine is full of plum that gives way to a savory finish. It’s a highly executed production of a varietal less stable than Joel and Clementine’s relationship.

Ratatouille (2007)

Pairing: d’Armaihac, Pauillac, France, 2005, $60.00 USD

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To pull off the cutesy movie a serious wine will be needed. Although this film was slightly marketed to children, the elements of Paris, food, and rats(?) – okay, minus the rats – make it a perfect fit for couch night.

However, as warned, maturity will have to be extracted from other facets, bring in this opulent Bordeaux blend (Cabernets Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot) from the legendary appellation of Pauillac. This deep ruby wine offers classic Pauillac flavors of black currant, graphite and leather. It may be a lot to spend to watch animated rats, but the evening will be quite unforgettable.

Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity (1944)

Pairing: R Winery “Evil” Cabernet Sauvignon, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, 2005, $ 13.99 USD

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Maybe kid films aren’t your thing. Perhaps cute doesn’t work for you. Billy Wilder’s film noir of deceit and betrayal might be more to your interest.

This dark and stylized film needs a dark and powerful wine, so what better yet than a high alcohol, hot spice wine called “Evil.” Although Fred MacMurray’s estate (Walter Neff) produces Pinot Noir in California, I’d think even he’d agree (in spirit form) that this film of lust and deception deserves something with a bit more octane.

And for those flying solo on airline couch date there’s no shame in reserving first class. Some of the best wines should be enjoyed alone… sometimes for obvious reasons.

Seven Samurai (1954) / Last Samurai (2003)

Pairing: Hochar (Chateau Musar) Red, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2001, $19.00 USD

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These films of pride and honor are enough to get anyone out of their rut to embrace man’s capacity for resilience. Akira Kurosawa’s epic Seven Samurai is 160 minutes long and might promote multiple bottles.

Proprietors of Chateau Musar, this entry level red is produced by the Hochar family, who withstood the perils of civil war during the 1980′s and continued their craft. The Bordeaux like red is full though lighter than the Chateau Musar consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Cinsault and Grenache.

Raging Bull

Raging Bull (1980)

Pairing: Pio Cesare Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy, 2000, $35.00 USD

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Beautifully photographed and stunningly violent, this Scorsese film explores the tragic rise and fall of middleweight champion Jack LaMotta.

The films eerie intro at tune of Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana: Intermezzo,” sets the perfect mood for the concentrated fruit and tobacco undertones of this wine produced between the Alps and the Mediterranean.

American Movie (1999)

Pairing: L’lano Estacado Cellar Reserve, Rising Star, Texas, 2006, $22.00 USD

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This is an unlikely wine for an unlikely film. The movie, part documentary, part comedy, part horror, is a revealing exploration of a low budget Milwaukee filmmaker’s aspiration to complete his film “Coven.” Surprisingly sincere, the film never designates Mark Borchardt’s dream as dilution, although you’ll constantly wonder if you’re laughing with him.

And there’s only one appropriate fit here… a Cabernet Sauvignon from south Lubbock, Texas. Let’s just say that the wine will be as completely unique as the film.

 

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