What Goes With Your Netflix Marathon

by Diane McMartin

Sometimes it’s impossible to deal with going on a real date, attending a cultural event where you might actually have to think, or doing whatever else you’re supposed to be doing with your leisure time to be a well-rounded human being. Sometimes you need to binge-watch your favorite television shows in slipper socks and mismatched pajamas. Here’s what to drink with what you’re watching.

The iconic girl-power series Buffy the Vampire Slayer cries out for semi-sweet Riesling. Look for feinherb, Kabinett, or halbtrocken on the label, and don’t be afraid of inexpensive liter bottles. Like Buffy, on the surface, off-dry Riesling is all fun and lightness and floral aromas. I mean, you know homegirl wore body spray from Bath and Body Works, or the Body Shop White Musk, right? Not to mention those nail polish colors that just had to be Revlon Street Wear (RIP). Good Riesling, just like a good Buffy episode, has a lot to say, while keeping you distracted with fun and monsters and breaking the fourth wall in a completely endearing way. It’s a good beginner wine, but unlike Franzia chillable red, it’s one you’ll likely never outgrow.

Locked Up Abroad is horrifying, but you just can’t look away. You need something similarly absorbing, but a little scary. This might be the time to try a dry Sherry. Fino for something light to have with snacks, Amontillado for something with a bit more body and heft. It will taste weird and wrong at first, but you’ll find yourself returning to the glass again and again. Plus, if you become a Sherry lover, there are (comparatively speaking) some good deals to be had, because no matter how hard sommeliers and boutique retailers try, it will probably never be a very popular category.

For the BBC’s cop drama Luther, it’s got to be something brooding and intense, like a big, chewy Syrah. Wine grapes can generally be divided into two camps: oxidative and reductive. Oxidative grapes are sensitive little guys that start to smell stale and flabby if they are exposed to too much air while they’re being made into wine. Reductive grapes are burly and need lots of air and exercise, and tend to have these savory, sometimes downright dirty aromas that some people learn to love, but that can be overpowering. Syrah is one of those reductive grapes. Feral, dark and meaty, it’s got the body of other ‘big’ grapes like Malbec or Grenache, but not as much friendly fruit, especially when it’s grown in the Rhone Valley in France and not in Australia. Basically we’re describing Idris Elba’s role as police detective John Luther here. Could he be any foxier? Good god. There is just something about that roiling tension all bundled under tweed jackets. You might need a cold shower after a couple of hours with a Cote-Rotie and all that desk pounding.

If you’re in the mood for a brainy sci-fi series like Battlestar Galactica, you’ll need something as tense and nervy as the show, especially for nail biters like “33.” New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is appropriately tart, taught, and citrusy, and it’s generally made in the most modern and squeaky clean of methods. It’s fermented in stainless steel tanks, bottled under screwcap almost 100% of the time, and most wineries even use special strains of yeast they’ve cultivated to bring out exactly the fruit aromas they want to accentuate in the finished wine. The future just might smell like artificial guava and grapefruit zest. So say we all.

The late-’90s USA series La Femme Nikita is awesome for so many reasons, from Roy Dupuis’ smolder to the delightfully insane outfits they put on Peta Wilson. But the best thing about this show was Alberta Watson’s portrayal of Madeline. Do not even talk to me about the CW’s version of this show. It is a monstrosity, and their Madeline 2.0 is all hauteur and pencil skirts and no substance. Madeline was ladylike, and at times kind, but had a badass core so ruthless it sometimes made you gasp. I mean, she shot her husband! Traditional Rioja, with its aromas of tobacco and fine leather and ability to age almost indefinitely, perfectly captures her stateliness. No one does old-school Rioja better than Lopez de Heredia, but there are other good producers who capture this style a little less expensively. Drinking one of these and watching Madeline strut across that scary white interrogation room will have you wondering if you can pull off shoulder pads. You can’t, but enjoy the fantasy.

Happy streaming, everyone!

Previously: What Goes With Your Breakup

Diane McMartin is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a graduate of a fancy-pants wine and beverage education program in St. Helena, CA. This required many flashcards and a lot of coffee. She lives in the Washington, DC area, where she works in retail teaching wine education classes, helping customers find the perfect wine, and wading through the seemingly endless ocean of bad Chardonnay out there.