Why Pamela Anderson Should Launch Her Own Line of Wines
I attended a tasting last week of the wines of Henri Bonneau. Although I’m not a big fan of over-the-top Southern Rhones, I thoroughly enjoyed these old-style, quirky Châteauneuf-du-Papes. The evening’s star attraction was the legendary 1990 Réserve des Célestins, which was served in a flight that also included the 2001 and the 1989 Célestins, highly acclaimed wines in their own right. Now here’s something that will appall you: the very pleasant gentleman seated to my left bailed on the dinner just before this illustrious trio of wines was poured. And why did he leave? To join his wife and children at—I kid you not—a Katy Perry concert. “I Kissed a Girl” over “I Tasted the 90 Bonneau Célestins.” Sad.
The 90 was pretty spectacular—a gloriously decadent freak of a wine, Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s answer to the 1947 Cheval Blanc. The 2001 and the 1989 Célestins were sensational, too, but didn’t deliver quite the same ecstasy. After we had all formed some initial impressions, we did the oeno-zealot thing and discussed the three bottles. Almost immediately, a guy at my end of the table declared the 90 Célestins “the Pamela Anderson of wines.” It was a comment that required no explanation; everyone grasped the reference and knew exactly what he meant—the 90 was a total sexpot, the vinous equivalent of Anderson spilling out of a low-cut dress.
Have you ever noticed how often Anderson’s name is invoked to describe these sorts of wines? Gather a bunch of grape nuts around a table, uncork a wine like the 90 Célestins, and there’s a very good chance that someone will compare it to the famously front-loaded former Baywatch star. That someone is inevitably a man, of course, which I suppose speaks to both the poverty and tawdriness of the male imagination (and here I write not merely as an observer, but as an offender: I once said that a wine was Anderson-esque in its proportions; fortunately, my editor at Slate nixed that line and made me come up with something more original and less apt to cause offense). No, “Pamela Anderson” isn’t as commonplace a descriptor as, say, “Parkerized,” but it has become shorthand for wines that give off a distinct whiff of va va voom—for wines that are extraordinarily voluptuous.
What’s interesting is that the Anderson analogy is still popular in wine circles despite the fact that her celebrity has dimmed in recent years. While it would be a bit harsh to say that she is washed up, she is no longer married to a grungy rock star, has no new reality shows, movies, or sex tapes, and has been bumped from the gossip columns by younger trainwrecks. The fact that her name remains a staple of wine discourse can be taken as an indication that we wine geeks are hopelessly behind the times as pop culture goes (no bad thing, in my book), and also underscores the lasting impression that Anderson—or at least certain parts of her—has made on a generation of men.
(You will note that I have not included a picture of Anderson here. This is a wine blog; if you want cheesecake, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere).
At any rate, it occurred to me after the Bonneau tasting that Anderson should seek to capitalize on this unique niche that she occupies in the wine world. While I generally abhor the celebrity wine phenomenon and am not in the business of giving career advice to faded pin-ups, I think Anderson ought to produce her own wines. How many celebrities, minor or major, can say that they have become virtually synonymous with a particular style of wine? This alone gives her legitimacy that no other fameball vintner can claim. And need I remind you that her character on Baywatch was C.J. Parker? Talk about encouraging omens! It seems to me Anderson has all the justification she needs to launch her own line of wines, and think of the fun she’d have, the sales she’d reap, and the renewed notoriety she’d enjoy (can you imagine what her label would look like?). I can even suggest the names of a few bottlings—how about a Cuvée Parker, or a Cuvée Pur Silicone? I wonder if my neighbor at the Bonneau dinner would bail on that one.