'I'd like to thank the cabernet': Toast the 2012 Best Picture nominees
February 24th, 2012
03:00 PM ET
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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

Oscar-night party? Need to bring a bottle of something? Of course you do! For those who want to get into the theme of the evening, here are nine possibilities based on - actually, let’s say very loosely based on - this year’s Best Picture nominees. Bring the one that fits your pick, and pour it for everyone when you win.

"The Artist"
Ah yes, Jean Dujardin - won best actor for his role in this film at the Cannes Film Festival, didn’t he? Well, whether or not he or the film triumphs in L.A., a crisp Provençal rosé from just outside Cannes ought to summon memories of that initial victory. Some producers to seek out (the 2010 vintage is still drinking fine): La Bargemone, Château d’Esclans, Château Riotor, Commanderie de Peyrassol and Domaine Houchart.

"The Descendants"
Not a whole heck of a lot of wine in this Hawaii-based film, but it was the opening night movie at last year’s inaugural Napa Valley Film Festival - and they do produce rather a lot of wine in Napa Valley. Go for a Cabernet - it’s the region’s signature grape. The 2008 BonAnno is terrific for the price ($20), as is the 2008 Twenty Rows ($20). For a bit more, the 2008 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley bottling ($28 suggested; often priced below that) and the 2008 Buehler Napa Valley ($25) are both very impressive.

"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
I don’t know what to suggest for this movie. As someone who was living in downtown New York when 9/11 happened, it seems like you might as well be sober when you see it.

"The Help"
In Jackson, Mississippi, in 1963, folks were not drinking much wine. Bourbon, definitely. Skip the fermented grape and go for something potent and southern, like the lightly smoky Bulleit Bourbon ($25). Or you could pick up a big ol' bottle of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka ($20), but I won’t be responsible for what happens to you if you do.

Rumor has it that Martin Scorsese’s favorite wine is Chianti. Perhaps not appropriate for a movie that’s set in a Paris train station for the most part, but hey, the guy’s up for best director too - why not raise a toast to him with his preferred vino? There are a lot of good Chiantis from the '07 and '08 vintages out there to choose from; five names to look for are Selvapiana, Felsina, Badia a Coltibuono, Castello di Monsanto and Barone Ricasoli.

"Midnight in Paris"
Paris in the 1920s: If you ever want a sense of what sort of food and drink awaited an extravagant eater in that era, find a copy of A.J. Liebling’s great collection of essays, Between Meals. One particular dish stands out: “truite au bleu - a live trout simply done to death in hot water, like a Roman emperor in his bath,” as Liebling described it. Rather alarming, but apparently excellent with an Alsatian white. Try the brisk 2010 Hugel Gentil ($16), a blend of five different grape varieties, or the peachy 2008 Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve ($18).

The movie is about baseball. Forget the wine, have a beer. And given the movie is about the Oakland A’s, more or less, you could go local. Oakland’s own breweries are hard to find nationally, but across the Bay, there is San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing - one of the founding fathers of the craft beer movement - and its creamy, tangy Anchor Steam Beer is consistently terrific.

"The Tree of Life"
Let’s just head straight to Mr. B. Pitt himself on this one: "Films that I've loved, like 'Jesse James' and 'The Tree of Life,' they're 'fine wine' pictures - they'll age well." Or so he said in an interview late last year. So - fine wine to go with "The Tree of Life"? How about Bordeaux? It's sort of the epitome of “fine wine.” You could knock yourself (or your bank account) out with a bottle of Château Pétrus for about $4,500, but the 2006 Christian Moueix Pomerol ($25), from the same family that owns Pétrus, sounds a lot better for a Sunday night party.

"War Horse"
Horses do not drink wine. Suggest a large bowl of oats to go with this one. And maybe a bucket of water.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Christopher

    Mr. Isles once again shows his total lack of knowledge of decent wines. The Napa cabs he recommends are awful, with the exception of the Buehler bottling. The BonAnno and Twenty Rows are particularly bad, bordering on worthless. For the price, go with Buehler, Beaulieu, Newton, among others.

    February 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  2. Jonathan

    What, no "Breaking Dawn Blood Red"? :P

    February 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  3. IwantThoseMinutesBack

    HOOOOOOLY CRAP!!!! you're useless – EnJoY

    February 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
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