15 Pop Culture-Inspired Wines
50 Shades of Grey mania has officially reached fever pitch: Among the many items that are launching to capitalize on the film’s Valentine’s Day release are a Christian Grey teddy bear, complete with mask and handcuffs, a kale cookbook (?), and plenty of adult toys that shall not be named. For the less pain-inclined among us, there’s also a duo of 50 Shades of Grey wines, which are a must for any collector of pop culture wines.
1. 50 SHADES OF GREY WINE
50 Shades of Grey fans are bound (pun intended) to want to raise a glass to author E.L. James, who personally blended this naughty pair of wines: Red Satin, a 2011 blend of Petite Sirah and Syrah aged in French oak barrels, and White Silk, a 2012 blend of Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc that’s character is as rich as Mr. Grey himself.
2. DOWNTON ABBEY WINE
Much like the Crawleys’ fortunes, the Downton Abbey Wine line continues to grow. In January, to coincide with the series’ fifth season premiere, California-based LCF Wines paid tribute to Cora Crawley’s American roots with the Countess of Grantham Collection, a series of bold-yet-fruity blends, including a Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, that make the perfect all-American counterpart the line's more traditional bottles of Bordeaux.
3. WALKING DEAD WINE SERIES
Clean water may be the beverage of choice of the Survivors on The Walking Dead, but nothing classes up a good zombie kill better than a cool glass of White Zinfandel. Personal Wine’s Walking Dead Wine Collector’s Series features a line of morbidly-named vinos—Cadaver Cabernet Sauvignon, Still Alive By Way of The Antidote, The UnDead Apocalyptic Red, and The Zinfection Blight Zinfandel—that are best enjoyed as a foursome.
4. CANNIBAL CHIANTI & SUIT YOURSELF PINOT GRIGIO
There are few fictional oenophiles as well known as Hannibal Lecter. So it was only a matter of time before some smart cineastes developed a Silence of the Lambs-inspired Chianti to go with your plate of liver and fava beans. Enter The Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain, who in 2013 announced their Cannibal Chianti and Suit Yourself Pinot Grigio. Unfortunately, the wines were limited editions, which means that you might need to enlist the help of Clarice Starling to find a bottle.
5. STAR TREK WINES
Fear not, Trekkies: The granddaddy of all merchandise-happy series has got its own collection of wines, too—four of them altogether: The Trouble with Tribbles, Mirror Mirror, and The City on the Edge of Forever are each named for popular episodes from the series, while Klingon Bloodwine is a celebratory drink, all of them with custom designed labels by artist Juan Ortiz.
6. ROLLING STONES 40 LICKS MERLOT
Regardless of what the label says, you’ll want to sip—not lick—this fruit-forward Mendocino County merlot, which tastes of black cherry and vanilla but looks totally rock ‘n’ roll.
7. DUCK COMMANDER
The Robertson clan of Louisiana rose to fame—and then infamy—with their A&E series Duck Dynasty, a rags-to-riches reality show about a family who found success with the Duck Commander duck call. At the height of the show’s popularity, the Robertsons added another item to their product line when they partnered with California’s Trinchero Family Estates to launch a line of Duck Commander wines, including a red Triple Threat, Wood Duck Chardonnay, Miss Priss Pink Moscato, Pintail Moscato, and Teal Hen Pinot Grigio.
8. REAL HOUSEWIVES WINES
The Real Housewives of [Fill In the City] wouldn’t be The Real Housewives of [Fill In the City] if there weren’t a plethora of wine on hand. So it’s hardly surprising that so many of the ladies have parlayed their reality fame into vino ventures, including Ramona Singer, who is rarely seen without a glass of Ramona Pinot Grigio in her hand; restaurateur/tiny-dog-lover Lisa Vanderpump, who produces her own red and pink sangrias by the bottle; current inmate Teresa Giudice’s Fabellini Proseccos; and O.C. ladies Tamra Barney and Vicki Gunvalson’s Wine by Wives wine club, which may or may not still be in business (judging by their under-construction Website and un-updated Facebook page).
9. WINES OF WESTEROS
File this one under “maybe.” Though not officially associated with Game of Thrones, the fan-funded Wines of Westeros promises that “Hangovers are Coming.” The concept is that there will ultimately be a dozen varietals, one for each of GOT’s 12 houses. We’re curious to taste The Dothraki.
10. AC/DC WINES
Wine gets badass with The Ultimate Rocker collection, which includes three bottles of all four AC/DC Wine varietals, including the Highway to Hell Cabernet Sauvignon, Thunderstruck Chardonnay, Hells Bells Sauvignon Blanc, and Back in Black Shiraz.
11. MARGE & HOMER SIMPSON
More of an art concept than an honest-to-goodness wine brand, Russian designer Constantin Bolimond’s Piet Mondrian-inspired Marge and Homer Simpson wine bottles are almost too pretty to drink. But what exactly is in the bottle? The label makes that a bit ambiguous: “The drink was brought to life together with the cartoon characters in 1987. Maybe it is wine, maybe not. We are inviting you to find out yourselves.”
12. TRAIN WINES
San Francisco-based band Train took their “Drops of Jupiter” hit pretty seriously. So seriously that they created a wine around the title, Drops of Jupiter California Red, a fruit-forward Petite Sirah. For white wine lovers, there’s Calling All Angels Chardonnay—not to mention California 37 Cabernet Sauvignon, Soul Sister Pinot Noir, Hella Fine Merlot, and Bulletproof Picasso Sauvignon Blanc, all of which are available through the band’s Save Me, San Francisco Wine Company (which admirably dedicates a portion of its proceeds to charity).
13. THE SOPRANOS WINES
Like the legendary mob series itself, The Sopranos Wines collection—a collaboration between HBO and the Vesuvio Import Company that was launched in 2008, more than a year after the series concluded—is a thing of the past. But bottles of the five varietals, which included a Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Noir, can still be found if you look (or Google) hard enough.
14. HELLO KITTY WINE
Hello Kitty has got this marketing thing down. Though she may have started life as a cute kiddie toy, but in the more than 40 years since her introduction, she’s been emblazoned on just about any product one could imagine, including a line of light and fruity wines, featuring a sparkling Rosé and an Italian Spumante.
15. FOGHAT CELLARS
A 2007 performance at the California Mid State Fair proved serendipitous for the British blues-rock band Foghat (think: “Slow Ride”). For it’s here that they met fan and winemaker Steve Rasmussen, who thought that the name Foghat would perfectly translate to a California wine brand. Thus the idea for Foghat Cellars was born, and nine months later the new collaborators bottled their first vino, a limited edition 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, there are five vintages, all blended with the slogan, “Music & Wine… Passions Combined.”