Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/3/2018 (1138 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Fifteen years ago, I threw an Oscar party.
I’d read an article about such things in a magazine, and thought, "Now that sounds like fun!"
I always watch the Oscars and the Emmys and the Tonys, and I figured it would be fun to have my best friends around to help enjoy the event. But me being me, if I was going to stage such an extravaganza, it had to be full bore. And believe me, it was.
I borrowed a long, narrow red carpet that I laid out on my driveway, along with two heavy stanchions and an entry rope that was strung in front of the door to the house. I had two of my buddies stationed outside, one pretending be a reporter/photographer who accosted folks as they walked up the carpet, asking questions such as "Who are you wearing?" and a stern-looking doorman who guarded the door, tending the rope and deciding who got in to this exclusive private bash and who didn’t. (Everybody who was invited was, after some grilling, allowed in.)
I insisted folks dress formally, and my gung-ho pals didn’t disappoint. White tie and dinner jacket, black tux and tails, long flowing gowns for the ladies — I mean, they went all out.
Unquestionably the funniest moment of the night was the arrival of two friends — I just happened to be looking out the kitchen window and saw this happen — with the woman dressed like Celine Dion sporting the fabulously unpopular backward tuxedo the chanteuse had worn to much derision, and the male of the couple garbed like a rock star in jeans, a sports jacket, a shirt open to his waist, multitudinous gold chains, and sunglasses, who pushed past and ignored the "reporter" and demanded entry to the bash. Hilarious!
Other than the fact the lasagna I tried to cook took three times longer than I’d anticipated, we had an amazing night. Guests were presented with a glass or two of bubbly on arrival, and televisions were set up in the bar (a bedroom converted for that purpose for the evening), as well as in the kitchen and the living room. Folks voted on who or what they thought would win in the big six categories, prizes were presented accordingly, and it was a history-making Oscars in that "Chicago" won for best picture, the first time in the (at that time) 75-year history of the Academy Awards a musical had taken the top honour. It was a night I’ll never forget.
I’ve often thought about re-staging that party, but I wouldn’t do anything differently, and since I happily still have the same friends, everybody would know what to expect. And when something is/was so magical, it seems stupid to try to match it because the original event was such a success.
However, when I got an email this week from the Francis Ford Coppola Winery promotional team (I had the distinct pleasure of being a guest at the Coppola winery in Sonoma, Calif., in 2016) about the wines that were to be served at the Oscars — both at the ceremony and the Governor’s Ball that follows — and discovered we can get some of them (or at least wines by the same producers) locally, I thought some readers might be moved to host their own Academy Awards party, and choose to be more authentic than I was.
So I decided it would be fun to showcase the Oscar wines, and perhaps if nothing else, inspire somebody to sip what the stars are sipping even if they just watch the broadcast on their own.
The Champagne the glitterati will be indulging in is Piper-Heidsieck — the Cuvée Brut Limited Edition Magnums, the Rare 2002, and Rare 1998 Magnums. There will be 1,500 bottles opened, which means more than 8,500 glasses are available to be consumed.
In Brandon, the Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut ($60) is available. It’s said to be nicely balanced with a juicy, fIeshy pear and golden grape texture with flavours of citrus and grapefruit. I haven’t had it, but I’ve never met a Champagne I didn’t like!
Another is the Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne ($69.95), which boasts long-lasting bubbles and the yeasty quality I so adore in Champagne. As well, look for a richness reminiscent of roasted coffee beans, and velvety, creamy mouthfeel with hints of plums and cherries.
And if you want to kick it up another notch, there’s the Piper and Charles Heidsieck Sauvage Rose Brut ($75.99), a juicy wine that presents black cherry, blackberry, pink grapefruit and blood orange notes, with hints of spice, pepper, tea, and liquorice thrown in for good measure.
As for the Coppola wines being served at the Oscars, most of these are ones I know, and they’re fabulous. The Director’s Cut Sauvignon Blanc, Director’s Cut Chardonnay and Director’s Cut Reserve Pinot Noir, along with a special Director’s Cut Oscars 90th Edition and Coppola’s flagship wine, Archimedes, which is the nicest red I’ve ever had, are all on the menu.
My contact said 2,400 bottles of Coppola wines, and thus more than 14,000 glasses, will be served during the Oscar festivities. None of these are available here, but the Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut Zinfandel ($37.59) is on local Liquor Mart shelves, and it’s amazing. So are the tasty Diamond Collection Scarlet Label Diamond Red Blend ($26.60 and Diamond Collection Cabernet Sauvignon ($26.63).
If you’d like some less expensive bubbly to join in the fun, try the ultra-glam Bottega Il Vino de Poeti Gold Brut Prosecco or the somewhat sweeter Bottega Rose Gold Sparkling Pinot Noir, both of which sell for $27.99, are delicious and come in shiny bottles that are simply gorgeous to look at. A bonus — both of these come in 200 ml mini-bottles that boast the same fabulous sheen the 750 ml ones do. And the little ones sell for $7.99 each.
So here’s a toast to Oscars’ 90th. Maybe I should seriously think about hosting another party for the 100th!
» Diane Nelson is a longtime journalist and former Sun staffer who really likes wine. A lot.