Wines To Go With The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

Not quite what we had in mind, Slash.

Editor’s Note: Our L.A. correspondent Randy Fuller is back, with a column especially for the upcoming induction ceremony of new members into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Check out Randy’s cool wine blog Now and Zin.

The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame will induct new members on April 14 in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s the 27th annual induction ceremony, the 27th time rock fans get to yell “It’s about time!” or “Where’s KISS?” With all that shouting, we’re going to need something to soothe our nerves.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 2012 inductees and pair a wine with each.

Performer category

Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys have the munchies.

If you’re singing along with “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” it’s a good bet you’re doing jello shots or drinking beer from a glass with quarters at the bottom. The Beastie Boys’ blend of funky rock, rap and hip hop need not be reserved for the lesser beverages. In fact, Beastie Mike D has dabbled a bit at wine criticism. Not surprisingly, he likes wine with a bit of funk. Root around a bit in the Côtes du Rhône aisle and pop for a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. You should be able to find a wine that brings enough funk to get a party started without fisticuffs.

MP3: “Drinkin’ Wine”

Donovan

Donovan’s music is poetry, a delicate flower at one turn, a handful of psychedelics at the next. His lyrics abound with references to wine, including a lovefest for the “maroon-coloured wine from the vineyards of Charlemagne.” Sounds like a Burgundy is about to be opened. Bonneau du Martray should do nicely, from the Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. You may want to select a white wine, as Charlemagne’s wife is said to have preferred her royal hubby not mess his beard with the red stuff. You are probably a much neater drinker than Charlemagne, though.

MP3: “Lay of the Last Tinker”

YouTube: “Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan

Guns N’ Roses

No Axl, it's about ... never mind.

In the mid-1980s, when Guns N’ Roses exploded from L.A. with a balls-out Sunset Strip strut and an Appetite For Destruction, they redecorated a rock and roll landscape that had become rather tired and listless. G N’ R offered up a brashness which made other acts seem like they were mailing it in. You may be tempted to go with a beer for them – a cheap one, in a bottle you can hurl at something – but California has a wine worthy of the Guns N’ Roses brand of excess in old vine Zinfandel. Both winemaker Joel Peterson and his Ravenswood Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel are brash enough for rock and roll.

Y0uTube: “Paradise City”

Laura Nyro

If any one of these inductees screamed for a wine pairing, it would have to be Laura Nyro. It was, after all, she who suggested we go “down by the grapevine, drink my daddy’s wine.” She also suggested “there’ll be lots of time and wine,” but, sadly, her time ran out. Lift a toast to her with Schramsberg’s 2008 Brut Rosé. It’s complex and dry and will fit with anything you bring to a Stoned Soul Picnic.

MP3: “Sweet Blindness”

YouTube: “Save the Country” by Laura Nyro

Red Hot Chili Peppers

BloodSugarSexMagik would be a good name for a wine, if the Red Hot Chili Peppers hadn’t already claimed it as their own. Their funky guitar rock and throbbing sexuality certainly puts one in the mood for a glass of something nice to pair with their spicy gastronominal moniker. Chili peppers call for something a little on the sweet side, like a nice Spätlese Riesling. Dr. Loosen’ Mosel-Saar-Ruwer efforts in that vein should provide enough ripe fruit sweetness to offset the power of the pepper.

MP3: “Tell Me Baby”

The Small Faces/Faces

This dual-identity entry is remembered more for their hard-rocking, hard-living ’70s style than their mod ’60s diminutive version. Rough and rowdy, never afraid to let the rough edges show, The Faces have Tannat written all over them. Choose a varietal selection from Madiran for that swagger, or pick one blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to dress up the palate like a skinny tie on a sharkskin suit.

YouTube: “Maybe I’m Amazed”

Early Influence category

Freddie King

Jim Franklin's painting of Freddie King that used to hang in Austin's Armadillo World HQ.

The electric blues master known as the Texas Cannonball, Freddie King left his fingerprints all over rock and roll. He was a huge influence on anybody who ever picked up a guitar and intended to do some damage with it. So affected by his entire persona, Grand Funk shouted him out in one of their big hits. Mr. King deserves a vintage Port, full-bodied and luscious, with a whiff of smoke to reference the dance halls and pool rooms of Texas, where the blues is still the king.

MP3: “Going Down”

Ahmet Ertegun (non-performer) Award

Don Kirshner

The Ahmet Ertegun Award goes to the late Don Kirshner, a songwriter and song seller who played a big part in shaping the pop music side of rock and pioneered the maturation of televised rock concerts. For good or for bad, he was the creative fire in the hole for The Monkees and The Archies. Kirshner’s wine should be a commercial success – natch – and should carry its years well. Mouton Cadet is a best-seller from Bordeaux, so you can expect good things from it with age. It’s easy on the pocketbook, too. A bottle of the current vintage will probably set you back less than a Monkees Greatest Hits CD.

The Award For Musical Excellence

Cosimo Matassa

You might not recognize his name, but Cosimo Matassa’s New Orleans recording studio was the place from which many great rock hits of the ’50s burst forth. Matassa eschewed gimmicks and audio manipulation, preferring to let the music speak for itself. The winemaking hasn’t changed much at Lopez de Heredia since the 1800s – they didn’t like gimmicks and manipulation then, and they still don’t. Their 1991 Viña Tondonia Tinto Gran Reserva is pure Rioja elegance.

Tom Dowd

As a scientist, Tom Dowd worked on the Manhattan Project that gave us the atom bomb. As a recording engineer, he worked at the Atlantic Records console and gave us Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton and the Allman Brothers. Both sides of his career packed a whallop. Would a fruit bomb be out of place here? How about a warm-climate Syrah with plenty of depth under all that fruit? Andrew Murray’s 2008 McGinley Vinyard Syrah comes from the hot microclimate of Santa Barbara County’s Happy Canyon – and it is the bomb.

Glyn Johns

British recording engineer and producer Glyn Johns helped nuance storm out of the speakers with acts as diverse as Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Joan Armatrading and The Who. He could coax a heartfelt ballad out of the recording session as well as bring the thunder and lightning right through those gold-plated wires. Merlot here, with a silky, mellow side playing counterpoint to the rock and roll smoke and leather notes.

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