The Television Sommelier (Part Three)

Okay, we admit it: We dropped the ball yesterday. It was a long day of work and when Mark finally got home, we headed straight for dinner, wine, and The Big Bang Theory, and we didn’t take time to post this to our blog. Fellow wine-lovers, we’re deeply regretful if you were left watching Big Bang without any guidance as to what you ought to be imbibing, and we hope that you’ll forgive us.

This week is truly the one we’ve been waiting for. While lots of great shows have already aired in prior weeks, this week boasts no less than four of our all-time favorites, shows we’re willing to miss dinner parties over, shows we occasionally rematch, even. If you’ve got a busy week ahead of you, we hope you have Tivo or a Hulu+ account. If you don’t have much going on, however, you are certainly in for a treat. And what goes better with awesome television than awesome wine? (That’s not rhetorical at all. If you can think of something, let us know.)

The Big Bang Theory (Premiers Monday, September 22, on CBS)

If you’ve ever known well any person with Asperger’s then this show is likely to hit a chord, as Dr. Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons, immediately reminds us of how candid yet endearing a single human being can be. With a fun cast of supporting actors including William Shatner’s Priceline daughter, Penny, (played by Kaley Cuoco) who’s character hails from Nebraska and cheers for our beloved Huskers (Go Big Red!), the show is light-hearted and funny, yet intelligent with quick if simple glimpses into the world of science, geekdom, and even love.

In honor of Penny and her Nebraska roots, we’re recommending with this show a Nebraska Edelweiss. Like Penny, the wine is sweet and hails from the Cornhusker State. Edelweiss wines could be likened to Moscato or sweet Rieslings, and are often slightly syrupy with notes of honey, melon, pineapple and other sweet fruits. While you’re not likely to find this in your neighborhood grocery store, if you plan ahead you can order online from any number of reputable Nebraska wineries, including James Arthur Vineyards, Glacial Till, Whiskey Run Creek, and many more. We love Nebraska wineries, so if you’re interested please contact us and we’ll do our best to direct you to one of the many fine wine producers here in our home state.

Modern Family (Premiers Wednesday, September 24, on ABC)

One of the shows we’re most excited about this year is Modern Family, now in its sixth season.  The shows boasts and incredible cast of actors, including Ed O’Neil, Sofía Vergara, and Eric Stonestreet as well as a group of incredible young stars who make the show both believable and wonderful. The real appeal of the show to us, aside from the fact that it may well be the funniest thing since Monty Python’s Flying Circus, is that it’s genuinely wholesome. It’s a show about family, and people who love one another, not relying on sexual humor, and often with a nice little lesson tied in at the end.

Thirty minutes in length and airing on Wednesday nights, occasionally serious, often hilarious, and never without its touching moments, we wanted to pair this show with a wine that’s also not too serious, very enjoyable, and priced for standard weeknight consumption. For that, we’ve selected Fess Parker’s 2012 Riesling. This is a $12 bottle that drinks more like a $40 bottle; as a Riesling, it’s fruity enough for Cam, yet sophisticated enough for Mitchell in that it is reminiscent more of an Alsatian style Riesling, complete with a petrol nose and semi-dry finish, than the sweeter models typically produced in the US. Made in California, where Modern Family is set, we think this wine, like this show, will rank among your favorites!

Nashville (Premiers Wednesday, September 24, on ABC)

Mark grew up in rural Nebraska, and while he may have resisted his country roots originally, this show has reminded him of just how great country music can be. Set in the “crazy town” Jason Aldean sings about, this show has everything a lover of television drama could ever hope for. The story revolves around the careers of country musicians and those closest to them; some of them have made it, many of them are still trying to, and all of them help viewers to appreciate how much more to music there is than just singing or playing instruments.  The show boasts arguably the most complex and best-acted cast on a television drama, and every episode ends in a moment that leaves us audibly crying out for more (“Nooooo!” is a common utterance at 9:59pm CST in our household). Lead by Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, and Chip Esten (LOVED you in The Office) every last actor in this show is well cast, well suited for their role, and plays it masterfully.

Most impressive, this show produces some absolutely excellent original music, and the actors and actresses get to show their stuff as they perform it for the world to see. The talent of these artists is incredibly diverse, as each one brings their own talent to the show in the form of musical ability. The edgy, soulful voices of Gunner, Scarlet, Deacon, Avery, and Zoey get right at the roots of country music, while the high-powered, upbeat, powerful voices of Rayna, Juliet, Luke, and others produce top-forty hits that Mark listens to while working out and blasts in his Jeep on the way to the gym. Add to it all the fact that this show shares the same night and channel as Modern Family, and you can pretty much predict where you’ll find us on Wednesday nights between September and April.

One of the most remarkable things about this show is that its cast is so large that from time to time there are characters who do not appear in an episode (sort of like Game of Thrones, but with less murder and almost no porn). Also, the characters are diverse and complex, each one unique and believable. For such a complex show, we’re going with a complex wine, and few wines are more complex than those being created by Orin Swift right now. With Nashville, we recommend Abstract vintage 2012. Smoke? Ripe cherry? Applewood smoked bacon? The range of flavors in this wine is as vast and enjoyable as the case of ABC’s Nashville. Both are sure to hold your attention, keep you guessing, and definitely leave you wanting more.

Law & Order SVU (Premiers Wednesday, September 24, on NBC)

With our Wednesday nights already locked in to Modern Family and Nashville, Law & Order SVU is an excellent argument for getting Tivo. This gritty, in-your-face spin-off of the original series (rest in peace, Jack McCoy) lacks the kick-ass-and-take-names courtroom scenes for which Sam Waterston was famous, but makes up for what it lacks with excellent acting and real world application. Recently, in league with USA, SVU cast members took on human trafficking, an effort we appreciate and applaud. The storyline of Special Victims Unit is always engaging, and taps into the zeitgeist of American culture on a weekly basis.

Lately, the show’s cast has begun to defect en masse, leaving lay-fans like us wondering what comes next. In 2011, justice-minded man’s man Christopher Meloni (Detective Stabler) departed the show, causing Mark to more or less lose interest. Then last year, Richard Belzer (Detective Munch) and George Huang (Special Agent Wong) both took flight, making us wonder if the show would return for another season. But one of the advantages of having an all-star cast is the ability to lose stars and carry on. Whether or not Mariska Hargitay (Detective Benson) and Ice-T (Detective Tutuola) can carry the remnant of the show’s original cast to continued greatness in the show’s sixteenth season remains to be seen, but if anyone can do it, Hargitay (Golden Globe, Emmy, etc.) and Ice (synonymous with “street cred”) are likely candidates to get the job done.

A show with a message deserves a wine with a message. And even if the messages don’t sync perfectly, we’re pairing Cline’s Cashmere with SVU. If you know of a wine the profits of which go to fighting human trafficking, please clue us in, but until then, breast cancer is a real bitch, too, and proceeds from Cashmere go to fighting it. Cashmere is a wonderfully drinkable red blend with plenty of tannins and spices for the wine lover, but easily drinkable all the same. Pop a cork during SVU, do a tiny part in the fight against breast cancer, and be clued in to some of the other real-life issues facing our nation (and world) today.

So that’s it friends, a litany of amazing fall shows and an ensemble of amazing wines to compliment each one. We hope you’ve enjoyed the television sommelier as much as we’ve enjoyed writing it. If you have suggestions for more shows, more wine, or more anything else, please share them with us. We love a good recommendation!




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