If you love classic movies, Five Easy Pieces is one you gotta see. It’s one of the top ten American films of the 1970s, in my opinion. If Easy Rider made Jack Nicholson a name, this is where he became a superstar. His character is a meandering, boozy no-account who must return home to his family of wealthy artisans. The first half of the film is a road trip, taking us all the way from a dusty moonscape of California oil derricks to the damp tranquility of Pugent Sound. (British Columbia actually stands in, but we’ll suspend disbelief.) Fortunately, you can mimic the path of the plot with some damn fine wines from California, Oregon, and Washington.
Side note: I was about to advise you to go outside of the order I’m presenting these wines to you and drink the rosé first, but that would be breaking my own rule. For years, I’ve listened to aristocratic drunks–we’ll call them the Drunky McSnobbersons–dismissively snap at me for not drinking pilsner from a pilsner glass, or not chilling Chardonnay at however many friggin’ degrees Celsius. (And yes, I’ve heard lunatics say it has to be served at a certain tenth of a degree.) To them, I say this: If I’m paying for it, I’ll drink it however in the holy fucking Hades I want. If I’m inclined to chug first-growth Bordeaux out of a Sports Illustrated shoe phone: So it shall be written, so it shall be danced. TL;DR of my semi-coherent spiel: I think the rosé would be a great first bottle, but do what pleases you. Now, on with the countdown:
Hobo Zinfandel, Rockpile 2013
California Zins can be big, Smuckers-style fruit bombs, a fact that has gradually turned some people away from the grape altogether. Hobo’s offering has pronounced fruit, but it’s definitely not a one-note player. You might get some cherry-berry notes up front, but it’s overall flavor is rounded with an earthiness that gives it more depth. The finish even has a peppery kick to it. This wine could stand up to a hearty meal or a special occasion (pair it with the best pizza place in town), but it’s also a perfect movie night wine.
A to Z Rose, 2017
My wife and I took a trip to Oregon’s Willamette (rhymes with Dammit and Janet) Valley last year, and A to Z/Rex Hill was our first stop. We were so impressed with their rosé that it’s earned a spot on our wine rack ever since. As I said in the previous article, I’m fighting the good fight for rosé, and you all can join the cause: This ain’t your grandma’s Bingo Night go-juice–it’s not even close to White Zinfandel. This one is rich and cherry-red in color, but it’s not sticky sweet. This is a festive, refreshing wine, to be sure, with raspberries, watermelons and a balanced acidity tinged with a hint of floral notes. Rosés have taken off, and with good reason: They go with all kinds of foods, including fried chicken, burgers, and zesty Asian cuisine. If you’re not onboard the pink wine train, you’re really missing out.
Disruption, Red Blend 2015
The folks at Disruption ventured from the Charles Smith vineyards in Washington, and they’ve had great success of their own. Seriously, if you see something Disruption, buy it–it’s gonna be good stuff. This red blend combines the Bordeaux varietals of Cab, Malbec, and Petit Verdot to form a wine that’s ripe with rich currant flavors and hints of oak and smoke. The finish has some lingering pepper to it. This wine is brawny yet approachable–kinda like that bald bailiff on Night Court.