Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Zombie movie wine pairings

Zombie Kingpin courtesy Marvel Comics.
Somebody on Twitter asked me to produce a list of wines paired to zombie movies, two areas of art and culture where I have some expertise. All right then.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The movie that started the modern zombie genre deserves a classic wine; something of impeccable pedigree. Plus, despite its age, the film is still scary; that's acidity. This is a good film for an aged Bordeaux, but unfortunately the '68s weren't any good. Film production started in 1966 so perhaps a '66 Chateau Latour is ideal. Rioja Grand Reserva is a nice substitute.

Dawn of the Dead (1979)

For connoisseurs, this is still arguably the best zombie film ever, even 33 years later, because of its mix of existential despair, social commentary and pitch-black physical humor (I still laugh at shopping-mall blood-pressure machines.) You need a great wine that's also full of darkness. That has to be Cabernet: how about a Robert Mondavi Reserve Napa Cab from the '70s or '80s? A Dunn Howell Mountain Cab will always do.

Dawn of the Dead remake (2004)
I don't like fast zombies (with a large exception, below.) Asked, "Are they fast moving?" the sheriff in Night of the Living Dead responded, "Nah, they're dead, they're ... all messed up." Watching corpses sprint requires me to suspend reality just a bit too much. But I have to make an exception for this witty, dark remake. Overcharged zombies call for a modern, high-octane wine: how about a nice Dry Creek Zinfandel, perhaps from Mauritson?

"White wine with humans? Are they the other white meat?" -- Bub from Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead (1985)
The tense underground war of nerves between scientists and military requires a wine with what the French call "nervosity." Let's have a cru Beaujolais, perhaps a Morgon Cote du Py from Jean-Marc Burgaud.

28 Days Later

Because it's not literally a zombie movie, I don't mind the sprinting, blood-spewing "infected." Of course I would mind if they showed up at a barbeque. Directed by Danny Boyle of "Slumdog Millionaire" fame, this is a great film on many levels, from the cynical view of animal-rights activists to beautiful hand-held shots of empty London. It needs a wine the English would like, and since we're talking about the infected, how about something with some brett, like a Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

28 Weeks Later

Fans of "The Wire" will enjoy Idris Elba as a US Army general who is just as ruthless as Stringer Bell. A great, harrowing sequel that has had me wishing ever since for "28 Months Later," set in Japan (you'll understand why when you've seen it). So let's toast that idea with an earthy junmai sake. Kurosawa is affordable and widely available.

Dead Snow
Frozen Nazi zombies attack Norwegian vacationers who seem well aware of horror movie conventions but keep splitting up anyway. You gotta drink German Riesling with this grossly hilarious flick: how about a nice Trocken (dry) Riesling from the Saar region, perhaps Van Volxem.
"I dunno, what do YOU want to drink?" -- Land of the Dead

Land of the Dead

Everything George Romero did after his classic Night-Dawn-Day trilogy was like the George Lucas second go-round at Star Wars: weaker overall, but with better visuals and some interesting ideas. Romero foresees the Occupy movement here, with the zombies as the working-man heroes. Thus it's best for a working-man's wine. I'll take Big House White in a box, which I personally like at Thanksgiving and would probably like just as well with my friends' raw intestines.

Return of the Living Dead

An underseen gem, this movie both parodied zombie film -- it exists in a universe where Night of the Living Dead was a fictional version of a real event -- while being an effective zombie movie itself. These zombies, who can talk, aren't interested in your body; just your brains. So what goes well with brains? Many like Chardonnay with that rich yet delicate brain meat. I'll take a Puligny-Montrachet, a fruity and moderately rich Burgundy, perhaps from Domaine Jacques Prieur. Bonus quote: "Honey, I know you're up there. I can smell your BRAIN."

Shaun of the Dead
Like Return of the Living Dead, this is both a great parody AND a great zombie movie, and is credited by some with sparking the current fervor for zombie flash mobs. Our hero Shaun spends all the time he can at his local pub, so you really ought to have a pint with this film. But I'll pick a wine you might actually find at a British pub: Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, perhaps an organically grown one from Natura, although I admit that if zombies are taking over the planet, I'm not going to care much about organic agriculture.

Just including this Spanish found-film horror flick in this list is a bit of a spoiler, and I'm loath to deliver any more. Be advised that, pleasant faux-documentary intro notwithstanding, this is not a comedy: it just keeps getting more intense. That calls for a Spanish wine with similar qualities, so perhaps a Toro from Bodegas Y Vinedos.
"Excuse me, sir, do you work here?" -- Zombieland


Woody Harrelson shoots his way across zombie-infested America in search of a Twinkie in yet another film to successfully blend zombie horror and humor. The Twinkie is so important in this movie that I have to pick something sweet, so how about Moscato d'Asti? Cascinetta Vietti 2011 was my favorite from a recent tasting; the lovely floral aroma would help cover up the scent of rotting flesh.

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  1. Hey Blake this is a highly creative post, and I'm amazed that no one has commented on it. Cool work and fun to read.

  2. Thanks! It has decent readership numbers. I think it just left people speechless.