Wine Needs George Clooney
I was watching a little television this weekend. For some reason, I kept coming across Clooney in a variety of different roles and it occurred to me that Wine needs George Clooney…or at least a Clooneyesque replacement.
Guys like George Clooney. Well, they like what George Clooney portrays.
First, he always gets the girl. He is, in fact, the only guy on my wife’s laminated card and I suspect he’s on just about every over 35 married woman’s laminated card.
Second, he’s a very good dude. That is, he’s the kind of guy that other guys would like to hang with and watch a boxing match, play some golf, lie about woman with or watch some football with.
Third, Clooney looks great without looking foppish or too put together…the kind of appearance most men want desperately to be able to pull off.
BUT…you never see him or his characters drinking wine and enjoying it, let alone talking about. We in the wine industry need George Clooney to portray a girl-getting, good looking dude in a blockbuster wherein he also makes wine drinking and appreciating wine look like the coolest thing since single malt scotch.
In this never-to-be-made blockbuster, while getting the girl, hanging out with his dudes, wearing really finely cut sports jackets, Khakis and mock turtles, while bantering very wittily and while embarking on a one-man crusade to take down some foppish, powerful jerk that kicked his dog, Clooney also needs to display an independent passion for wine that is in no way dependent on ratings and numbers, but born of palate confidence a knowledge of wine’s history, lots of experience drinking and collecting the stuff, while being not quite—but almost—obsessed with the drink.
While taking on the Dog-Kicker, Clooney (the brilliant guy who dropped out of grad school to work for the CIA to save the world but got disillusioned and started his own private detective agency and is very happy not using his brilliance but rather catching cheating wives and tracking down insurance cheats) needs to hang with buddies like Dennis Leary (the rich banker buddy), Ray Liotta (The adulterous, former high school football star buddy) and Viggo Mortensen (best friend and rising star in some clandestine government intelligence agency). They get together often and there’s always wine involved. For example, while they are fishing on Viggo’s boat and before our hero explains he’s about to commit an illegal deed to finally take revenge on the Dog Kicker, Clooney pulls out some bottle and says something like, "Boys, behold the pride of the Rhone—it’s great juice that will caress your tongue more fully than Maggie Feinstein used to back at Garrison High—and the great thing is, no one will call you desperate for putting your tongue down deep into this beauty!" And they proceed to drink the wine, talk a little about it without ever using wine-geek words while reminiscing about Maggie, her tongue and Ray Liotta’s unpleasant memory of tripping on the five yard line, not making into the end zone to win the state championship and how his life went down hill ever since.
Wine needs George Clooney desperately.
There is nothing like pop culture to revitalize ideas, provoke curiosity among the masses, or take a niche product and turn it into a phenomenon. If you think wine is more than a niche product, then show me the placard adorning the side of a football stadium that advertising Merlot.
I don’t think the upcoming movies about the Judgment of Paris is going to do for wine or Napa Valley what Sideways did for Pinot Noir. I could be wrong. But I don’t think so.
The key to bringing wine from niche to mainstream is turning men from beer to wine. That means reinventing the image of wine from a rich man’s indulgence to something ruggedly cool. I’m not talking "beer rugged" where the drink simply becomes an easy to drink alcohol-delivery vehicle conveniently bottled in easy-to-swig, hand-fitting vessels. Rather, wine needs to be transformed into a different kind of idea; something that the generally self-conscious American male can pick up and drink and not be accused of going soft.
Wine Needs George Clooney.
George, if you read Fermentation e-mail me…we’ll work on the script together. Plus, I think I can get you some really great wine out of the effort!