This holiday season I have opted to repeat my blog from last year because the films obviously remain classics and the pairings still apply.
It is the busy season at Premier, so I am just doing one large blog for the Holidays. I have listed 10 of my favorite Christmas movies with one bonus film many of you probably have never seen or heard of, but should take a look at. For each movie I have suggested a wine or spirit to go along with your viewing pleasure.
1. A Christmas Carol (1951): My favorite all-time Christmas movie with the incomparable Alistair Sim. It’s full of dark, brooding, Victorian London along with cheery snowy street scenes and lovely carols. A figgy and nutty Tawny Port like Niepoort Ten Year is just the thing to sip along with a slice of Christmas cake or pudding as you view this ideal Christmas movie.
2. A Christmas Carol (1984): My second favorite version of Dickens’ classic with wonderful sets and a cynical yet wry Scrooge played by George C. Scott. Pair with Plantation’s Pineapple Rum from an old recipe mentioned by Mr. Dickens himself in Pickwick Papers. For his version, add boiling water and three lumps of Sugar.
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965): Has there ever been a better Christmas cartoon? Even with all the 3-D and CGI effects of recent holiday programs and films, nothing comes close to this honest and heartfelt classic. Pair with Noble Tree 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is delicious and let’s face it; in the end Charlie Brown’s “noble” little tree is the star of the show. Enjoy with a Christmas roast beef.
4. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): Like all great Christmas classics, this story has a distinctly dark tone throughout much of the film, yet in the end there is light in the friendship and charity of others. Pair this with appropriately named Angel’s Landing Pinot Noir and be sure to toast Clarence for earning his wings.
5. The Bishop’s Wife (1947): Who could portray a more suave and charming Angel than Cary Grant? Nobody. Grant’s Dudley is the polar opposite of the bumbling, childlike Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life. Dudley is so smooth he not only hits on a Bishops wife, he can also keep a bottle of Sherry full for an eternity. Speaking of sherry, try a glass of Savory James Cream Sherry with Christmas cookies while watching the movie.
6. Miracle on 34th Street (1947): This is a great Christmas movie that should only be viewed in black and white (skip the washed out colorized version) which does justice to the beautiful hustle and bustle of New York in the 1940’s. Pair this film with a Tom and Jerry, the perfect nostalgic holiday drink that’s warm, frothy, sweet, spicy with a bit of a kick from the Brandy. Just the thing to warm you up after a long day of shopping. Any decent Brandy will do.
7. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989): A Christmas comedy that hits all the important notes from weird relatives, Christmas tree hunting, shopping, Christmas dinner and probably the best Christmas light scene ever filmed. Pairing this film with Egg Nog in Reindeer Glasses is a no brainer. If you don’t feel like making your own Egg Nog, Evan Williams Bourbon dominated Nog will work in a pinch. Squirrel!!!!!
8. Holiday Affair (1949): This re-discovered Christmas film has been getting a cult following in the last few years. It is quite funny and charming and a touch sentimental without being a complete sap fest. Robert Mitchum is great as a down on his luck charmer who woes Janet Leigh and her little boy with “shoot from the hip” honesty. In the movie, Mitchum likes to hang out with squirrels and seals in Central Park eating hot dogs and nuts. In his honor, lets pair the movie with a bottle of Roederer Estate Sparkling Brut which should work just fine with hot dogs, peanuts, even chestnuts.
9. One Magic Christmas (1985): A little known film from the 1980’s with Mary Steenbergen and Harry Dean Stanton as an angel. For those of you familiar with his work, you’ll find his turn as an angel both odd and quite convincing. This film has one of the best Santas I've ever seen. Try this with Hot Cocoa and Smirnoff Peppermint Twist Vodka with Molasses and ginger cookies.
10. A Christmas Story (1983): This one hits all the nostalgic funny bones. Darren McGavin is the perfect befuddled, grumpy and utterly silly Dad who attacks the holiday season with the determination of Genghis Khan sweeping through Asia. To pair with this movie, I went to Perseverance Old Vine Zinfandel in honor of the “old man”. Try this with cheese and crackers while decorating the tree.
11. Remember the Night (1940): This is my bonus movie for those who love TCM, black and white and the pairing of Barbara Stanwick and Fred McMurray. This film is a blend of holiday nostalgia, romance, wisecracks, darkness, and an unhappy ending. Bittersweet you might say. This will pair well with Bellwether Cherry Cider and a box of tissue.
There you have it-some great movies and terrific libations to match. I have intentionally kept the tasting notes brief (this is a blog, not a novel afterall). Enjoy the holidays and remember our greatest gifts are still peace and love.