The connection between wine, beer, and popular music runs deep.
From classic pop songs like Neil Diamond’s “Red Red Wine” to country singer Luke Combs’ boozy lament “Beer Never Broke My Heart”, Whitesnake’s “Wine, Women, an’ Song” to Toby Keith’s “Beer for My Horses”, the two beverages have been fodder for generations of songwriters. It should come as no surprise, then, that many musicians have turned their eyes to the alcohol industry and either bought their own vineyards and breweries, or paired with established brands. Here are a few notable examples:
There aren’t too many rock stars that you can imagine sipping a glass of Sangiovese on the veranda but Sting is definitely one of the few to come to mind. The ex-Police singer and his wife Trudie bought Villa il Palagio Estate in Tuscany back in 1999, converting some of those “Roxanne” royalties into grapes, honey, and olive oil. He’s not afraid to intertwine both careers, with wine like Message In A Bottle Bianco (a blend of Vermentino, Sauvignon, and Trebbiano) harkening back to the days when his band regularly topped the charts.
What pairs best with black-eyed peas? Presumably Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Viognier, three of the grapes grown at the Ferguson Crest vineyard belonging to Pat Ferguson and his daughter Fergie – formerly of the Black-Eyed Peas – at their winery in southern California. Needless to say, their blended red (Syrah, Merlot, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon) has not only been deemed “Fergalicious” by some reviewers, it’s also actually been named Fergalicious.
Metal maestros Metallica are seemingly everywhere when it comes to the alcoholic beverage market. A couple of years ago they enlisted former Maker’s Mark master distiller and blender Dave Pickerell to create their own rye whiskey brand, Blackened, blasting their own music at it to “age” the final product. They’ve also paired up with Budweiser in the past for a one-off tribute brew, and more recently with Stone Brewing for their Enter Night Pilsner. Presumably you’ll be off to Never Neverland after a few cans?
Is anyone surprised that singer Mick Hucknall of Simply Red would buy a vineyard in Sicily and call his winery Il Cantante (The Singer)? Probably not, though it is notable that he didn’t work his band’s name into the product name of his blended red, which is sadly called the Etna Rosso and not Simply Red Red, which would be both perfect and terrible. It’s not a cheap tipple, averaging in at somewhere around $100, so choosing Simply Red’s ‘80s jam “Money’s Too Tight to Mention” as the soundtrack to an after work glass seems perfect.
They do enjoy a pint or two at the pubs in Manchester, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that post-punk pioneers New Order would eventually want a drink to call their own. It’s a golden ale flavoured with citrus fruit and lychee, and named after the song “Stray Dog” from their last full length, 2015’s ‘Music Complete’. Their collaborators at Moorehouse Brewery in Lancashire must have a sense of humour considering that one of the key lines in the song is “I can’t stop drinking, it’s in my blood.”
Fully Completely by The Tragically Hip gave us several indelible songs, including “Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)” and “Fifty Mission Cap”, and in 2015 with the re-release of their seminal third album they also gave us a Grand Reserve in conjunction with Stony Ridge Estate Winery. Racked into American and French oak barrels for over a year and a half before blending, the Bordeaux-style red is still in production, with 2950 cases bottled back in March 2021. Presumably it would be perfect for celebrating the end of a road trip “At The Hundredth Meridian”, where the Great Plains begin.
Wine is the most romantic of drinks, especially in the right setting. So, imagine; it’s just before midnight on a warm summer’s evening, and you’re sipping an elegant, blended red while watching the harbour lights twinkle in the distance, a gentle piano ballad drifting from the open doors of a nightclub. Oh, wait; is that the sweet sound of soft-rock/r&b legend Boz Scaggs tickling your ears? Why yes it is, just as the wine is also courtesy of Scaggs, who at the company’s height made 350 cases of a Rhone-style red blend and 100 cases of a grenache rosé at his small but respected Scaggs Vineyard in Napa Valley.
Scaggs closed down the company a couple of years back, but the grapes themselves (and the vineyard) are still being used by new owners Newfound Wines if you’re jonesing for that Scaggs vibe.
Since we’re in the Napa Valley area we might as well take a look at the Mumm Napa Santana Series Sparkling Wine, a collaboration with guitar hero Carlos Santana. Mumm Napa and Santana have been working together since 2005, creating an evolving collection of sparkling wines from which partial proceeds go towards the Milagro Foundation, a publicly supported foundation Santana founded that supports under-resourced children in the areas of the arts, education and health. We’re going to go out on a limb and assume that the wine is very “Smooth” tasting.
Getting back on the metal tip, Iron Maiden hasn’t gone into the world of beer with half measures, they’ve launched an entire lineup of brews. The Trooper brand includes a stout, an IPA, a Pilsner and more, all branded with their zombie-demon mascot Eddie in various guises. As of 2021 there have been 30 million pints of Trooper beer sold, and presumably chugged down to the tune of the song from which it was named.
It would have been amazing to have finished off this article with a nod at L’il Jon’s now vanished venture, Little Jonathan Winery, but since it’s completely disappeared we’ll instead go on to the next best thing, Train’s Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co. The Bay Area rockers aren’t shy about making the connection between their music and the wine explicit, with such offerings as the Chardonnay Calling All Angels, a California red called Drops of Jupiter, and a California rosé, all named after well known Train songs. Their 2005 hit “Cab” might not be a reference to Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’ll do for the purposes of this article.