wine and metal

So this is the weekend of Wacken Open Air, the biggest heavy metal festival in the world, and although I’m not able to attend this year I’ve been watching the proceedings through NDR’s live streaming web feed, which will be going on for most of the day for those of us in North America. Anyway, I was just watching Devil Driver and noticed that the band has a bottle of red wine open on stage with them as they’re performing. This got me thinking about the subject of heavy metal and wine.

The two do go together. Metal’s fan base is now incredibly diverse, generationally as much as in any other way; it is now quite common to encounter middle-aged metalheads who grew up on Bay Area thrash and NWOBHM in the ’80s, and who have children who are now into metal. (I don’t have kids, but I’m old enough to have teenaged children of my own. I started listening to metal in 1983). Metalheads have always been fond of drink–some bands like Tankard sing mostly about drinking–but beer and hard spirits have traditionally been associated with the subculture. After all, this is one of the most iconic album back covers in the history of metal:

rib back cover

But metalheads do love wine. I drink far more wine than I do beer. Some metal musicians actually own wineries and are creating their own wines. Check out this page which has a review on the best heavy metal wines. Reviewed here you’ll find:

  • A Sancha by Caduceus Cellars, which is part-owned by Maynard Keenan of Tool.
  • The immortal Motörhead Shiraz, which is made in Australia. Can’t figure out which winery is doing this, but unfortunately the wine is mostly available in Europe.
  • Slayer “Reign in Blood Red,” which is actually a cabernet (claret, if you’re from the UK). This doesn’t appear to be made anymore.
  • Two wines, a red and a white, made by Three Rivers Winery in Washington state and put out under the name of Geoff Tate, formerly of Queensrÿche. This wine has not reviewed well (the article calls it “Operation: Winecrime”!)

I also recall in an interview that the guys of Rotting Christ, from Greece, are wine connoisseurs.  That’s not too surprising–drinking wine in Greece is more common than drinking water, and nearly every village has its own wine, some from vines planted centuries ago.

There’s more wine at Wacken Open Air than you’d think. The stores in the Wacken village sell a surprising amount of it, and it’s not bad. I recall polishing off a bottle of Italian Montepulciano with some friends of mine from Milan who were camped in the backstage/VIP parking lot–I believe that was in 2005, maybe 2006. In 2010, the first year since 2000 that I couldn’t go, I gave money to one of my Norwegian friends who was going specifically to buy an Erath Vineyards pinot noir, which is distributed in shops in Norway, specifically to enjoy at the Wacken campsite “on me.” Erath is made not far from where I live and I’ve been to their winery many times.

I also have a great story about bringing a Maysara Mitra pinot noir–which runs about $90 a bottle–across the Atlantic on Queen Mary 2 on the way to Wacken in 2008, but that’s a story for another time.

At home, I have often watched the awesome “Armageddon Over Wacken” DVDs, which really do put you almost right there on the field. I have enjoyed these films with wine more often than beer.

So, wine-loving metalheads, throw the horns and crack open a fresh bottle! Wine is heavy metal…and getting more so every day!