There’s one fairly simple recipe for relieving the doldrums of winter: curl up with a blanket and turn on Netflix. With some new series coming on board, like Judd Apatow’s Los Angeles-based Millennial dating show Love, the hilarious documentary series from comedian Chelsea Handler, and the family reunion-themed Fuller House, Netflix has never been better.
But just when you thought your relaxation efforts couldn’t be more complete, we’re here to add wine to the mix. And not just any wine, we’re talking about the perfect wine. Here is a guide to pairing wines with your favorite Netflix shows. No spoilers, I promise!
House of Cards
Wine: Brunello di Montalcino
As we gear up for the release of Season 4 later this week, perhaps you’ll want to re-watch the grueling final episode from the last season to remind yourself just how intense this show is. This is a serious show, with serious characters that are simultaneously unbelievable and yet frighteningly realistic, and it therefore requires serious wine.
Brunello di Montalcino is a brooding, full-bodied and complex red wine from Tuscany, made of 100 percent Sangiovese. It is a wine that must be drunk aged – usually, 7-10 years old is ideal – and decanting is recommended. Brunellos, which are a DOCG wine (the highest-quality appellation in Italy), are sometimes very pricey. It’s a wine for ambitious, unstoppable people, just like Frank and Claire Underwood. Maybe you’ll even dip into your secret stash of cigarettes while sipping on some Brunello and watching House of Cards.
Bottles to try:
Wine: Left Bank Bordeaux
Finally, Netflix has the very last episodes of Mad Men Season 7, and many questions are hanging in the air: will Don move to California? Will he reveal his identity? What will happen to the original Sterling Cooper gang? What about Peggy’s long-ago abandoned baby? To cope with all this uncertainty, match the high-rolling dining culture of Mad Men’s cast with a bottle of fine red wine. At one point in Season 7, there’s a crucial proposal riding on one powerful man’s love for the famed Left Bank Bordeaux estate Château Margaux. You might not find one of the highly allocated, expensive bottles from that actual domain, but there are many more affordable options from that region.
The Left Bank of Bordeaux is home to the original Chateaux that received the First Growth status during the Bordeaux Classification of 1855. The wines are a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, sometimes Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Complex, tannic, and full-bodied, they need to be aged in bottle for 3-15 years, and decanted before drinking. Certain vintages that are deemed “off,” or not as ideal in terms of weather, will be lower priced, which is to your benefit – since as they say, there are no truly bad vintages, only bad winemaking, so take advantage of the savings! Pop one of these bottles to experience the life of the 1960s “mad men” who elevated marketing to a whole new level with their prowess for consumer behavior, the power of visual art, and many booze-filled lunches.
Whether she’s tackling sexuality, drugs, race, singledom in the late thirties, or her emotional relationship with her father, comedian Chelsea Handler does it all with a quirky mixture of heartfelt sincerity, awkwardness, and style. That’s why the perfect wine to enjoy while watching Handler’s mini-series is a fresh, bright, simple Rosé. It might not be the most elegant wine, but it will be inviting and fun, and will keep you coming back for more.
Even better would be a boxed Rosé, just waiting in your fridge for you to refill at every break between episodes. A good one to try is the pale pink Vrac, named for the humble juice that French villagers pour into vessels directly from a communal tank. It’s right around that time of year when the current vintage of Rosés will start to appear on the shelves at your local wine shop, so keep an eye out for these soon.
Meth, mortality, gang violence, the bleakness of middle-class American life, the stark landscape of the New Mexican desert—Breaking Bad is no joke, and it calls for a dry, snappy white wine with lots of acidity, so you can sip slowly while you’re riveted by the tense action on the screen.
Sancerre is mineral, bright, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc wine from the Loire Valley, a cool climate region in northern France. It’s a well-known appellation of high caliber, just right for a show that features great writing, stellar acting, and a truly unconventional and daring premise.
Neurotic, angsty but very pretty woman meets nerdy, nice guy, and they stumble into something vaguely resembling a relationship, with lots of text messaging, raunchy sex, and excessive drinking. Judd Apatow’s latest requires massive amounts of cheap, white bubbly to stomach all the scenes that, for many of us, might hit juuuuust a little too close to home.
Prosecco, Italy’s ubiquitous and insanely drinkable sparkler, is an ideal choice. It’s affordable enough that you can even down two bottles as you blaze through episode after episode, which is definitely something that Mickey, the boozehand female lead, would do. And if you happen to be watching Love with that hot guy or girl from the apartment down the hall, a bottle of Prosecco might help you make Netflix-and-chill into a hot date.
Wine: Vinho Verde
The gang’s all back together! It’s a reunion at the old family house—minus baby Michelle, but grown-up DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy are enough to make it worth watching. Somehow, even all these years later, nobody seems to have changed very much at all. Get ready for lots of warm-and-fuzzy teachable moments and family-friendly jokes (accompanied by live audience laughter) from your favorite childhood TV characters.
Vinho Verde, the fresh, light, refreshing, barely fizzy white wine from northern Portugal, is a sure bet for pairing with Fuller House. It goes down easy, is low in alcohol, and satisfies all the generations. Plus, Vinho Verde costs so little, you can water the whole family without spending big.
Master of None
Wine: Oregon Pinot Noir
If you have yet to discover Season One of this hilarious show, the brainchild of comedian Aziz Ansari, then run out and grab a bottle of smooth, fruity Pinot Noir from Oregon. The show’s star is a young professional named Dev who is navigating his ethnic identity as he pursues an acting career in New York City, and experiencing the ups and downs of dating and love.
Like friendly and good-natured Dev, an Oregon Pinot Noir will be easy to get along with, down to earth, not too high-brow or expensive, and a reliable companion on any given night of the week. Plus, Pinot Noir will pair well with tacos, which you may get a craving for when you get to the episode where Dev is overly determined to find the perfect taco. Let me give you this advice: research beforehand where the best tacos around are to be had.
Orange Is The New Black
Alternately sad and inspiring, always captivating and suspenseful, an OITNB viewing session calls for a smooth Malbec. You need a wine like this to calm your nerves and keep you from biting your fingernails during the more intense moments of the show. What dumb thing will Piper do next? Will an inmate suddenly be freed, or suddenly be sent to the shoe?
Malbec is mostly known as a wine from Argentina, but in fact it’s originally from France, and still produced there. In Argentina, the climate is typically hotter, and more oak is used on Malbec, so that it tends to be higher in alcohol and generally a bigger wine. French Malbec, from the Southern region of Cahors, tends to be lighter and earthier. No matter where it’s from, Malbec is a balanced, easy-drinking wine with smooth tannins, and reliably affordable.