In what is perhaps the strongest evidence yet of wine's power to unite, fans of upper-crusty period drama "Downton Abbey," sci-fi classic "Star Trek" and the proudly down home show "Duck Dynasty" can all buy wines bottled under license to their favourite show.
Must drink TV?
The Downton Abbey wines, a white and a red (retailing at $16.99), come from Wines That Rock, a company that makes wine under the names of rock groups, including the Rolling Stones. They're made by Dulong Grand Vins, a Bordeaux winery, which makes sense since the show has featured a number of wines from that famous French wine region.
Wine has been a big part of the British series, with butler Mr. Carson taking great pains over which wines to serve with dinner. One of the wines served at the big dinner party in the second episode of the fourth season was a 1919 Chateau Coutet, a big thrill for the family that now owns the southern Bordeaux winery (which produces a well-regarded dessert wine).
Producers of the show, who are known for their faithful attention to detail, approached the family and asked for permission to use the name, then made a prop bottle to use in filming. "We were thrilled," says Aline Baly, co-owner and director of marketing and communications for Chateau Coutet.
Meanwhile, "Duck Dynasty," an A&E show about a family business that makes products for duck hunters, primarily a duck call, might not seem such a seamless fit for the wine world.
But Bob Torkelson, chief operating officer of Trinchero Family Estates, the Napa Valley winery that makes the Duck Commander wines, says the Trincheros and the Robertsons (the Louisiana family featured on the show) have a lot in common in terms of running family businesses.
The Robertsons met the Trincheros after asking around for recommendations on wineries.
Willie and Korie Robertson have visited the winery and contributed to decisions on blending and packaging. The wines, released late last year and retailing for about $10, are available in a red blend, a chardonnay and a pink moscato; a pinot grigio also is planned.
The show stirred unwelcome publicity last December when family patriarch Phil Robertson made a number of controversial statements to GQ magazine, including calling gay sex a sin. However, sales of the wine have been robust, passing 100,000 cases in about four months.
And what of "Star Trek?" Is there a space-wine continuum?
Yes, actually, there is, says Peter Messa, spokesman for Vinport which handles marketing for the Star Trek wines.
"Star Trek has many wine references in it, the most famous probably being Klingon bloodwine," he notes. In fact, food and drink plays a big part in the series, with toasts often raised to celebrate interspecies diplomacy and other milestones.
The Star Trek wines are based on the original series, or TOS to fans who are primarily Baby Boomers (major consumers of wine). The wines feature labels based on poster art by Juan Ortiz, who was commissioned by CBS to make posters of the iconic series.
The first release of the wine was made in California's Sonoma County and is a red blend of merlot, sangiovese, cabernet franc, dolcetto and tinta cao. The bottles cost about $25 and were produced in a limited-edition release of 1701 cases. Not fan-boy or -girl enough to get that reference? It's the registry number of the original Enterprise.
The wine was released under three labels commemorating the shows — Trouble with Tribbles, Mirror, Mirror and City on the Edge of Forever, which is, of course, the greatest Star Trek episode ever made.
Not a Trekkie? Or a fan of mansions or mallards? Not a problem. For you, there's a "Game of Thrones" beer from a partnership between HBO and Brewery Ommegang in New York — Take the Black Stout.
Downtown Abbey wines: http://www.downtonabbeywine.com/
Duck Commander wines: http://tfewines.com/our-wines/duck-commander.php
Start Trek wines: http://www.vinport.com/startrek
Game of Thrones beer: http://www.ommegang.com/got/take_the_black.php
Michelle Locke tweets at https://twitter.com/Vinecdote