The global wine industry—beleaguered by the recent recession, fickle vintages, lazy retailers, semi-literate historiographers and the idiotic 100-point scoring scale—may be likened to the Frankish army at Anatolia, Wellington’s forces at Waterloo, the 2nd Ox at Pegasus Bridge or Gandalf and Pippin at Minas Tirith.
What these sad sacks needed—what we all need when times get rough and Paul Simon is laying himself down with groupie squish instead of over our troubled waters—is the cavalry.
But who will lead that charge against the Forces of Eno-Dullness? Who will be the deus ex machina swooping down on the vineyards in the play’s final act? Who will be our Knights Templar in Asia Minor, our Marshal Blücher in Belgium, our British Commandos on D-Day?
‘Horns, horns, horns; great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last!’– The Return Of The King
I’ll tell you who: She’s sittin’ pretty in the fourth hour of Today’s Talk, right alongside Hoda Kotb—a name that looks like the nurse who typed out the birth certificate had her fingers on the wrong row of keys.
Million-Dollar Smile and Gams That Just Won’t Quit
Kathie Lee Gifford’s resume is pretty daunting.
You see, some women are born great while others have Frank Gifford’s greatness thrust into them. But that would his first wife or perhaps Johnny Carson’s wife or that flight attendant he was schtupping on the QT. Kathie Lee may have come to Frank’s boudoir as sloppy seconds, but her hefty pedigree was already in place—including babysitting for Anita Bryant, performing the sing-a-tune on Name That Tune with the other mentally-challenged Kennedy, Tom, and being Regis Philbin’s long-time straight-man.
And by straight-man, of course I mean in the Anita Bryant sense, because even though her bio lists among her life skills (besides songwriting, acting, and hosting) stand-up comedy—emphasis mine—I think that even the most ardent Gifford fan, and I count myself among them, find her about as funny as a necrotic scrotal ulcer.
Well, strike that. It was moderately good situational humor when she interviewed Martin Short in 2012 and kept inquiring about his wife, who she apparently forgot died in 2010. But that was improv. It was funny when she sang ‘If you could see me now, out on a Fun Ship cruise’ for the company that owned the fun-free Costa Concordia. And, it was moderately giggle-worthy when she burst into crocodile tears when it was revealed that her K-Mart clothing line was made from the sweat of Honduran pre-schoolers.
But (God bless her lily-white badonkadonk), I think we can agree that Kathie Lee Gifford is to stand-up comedy what drag queens are to Victoria’s Secret models.
Wine’s a Different Kettle of Squish
Well, wine ain’t funny either, Kathie; so, it’s right up your alley.
Of course, most of her on-air imbibing is done via computer-generated special effects, since if you pester guests about dead people when sober, there’s no telling what you might bring up drunk.
Nonetheless, she is quite proud of her staged wine drinking persona, and even more proud of her latest venture: Her very own line of GIFFT wines, not made by Honduran orphans, but by Scheid Family Wines in Monterey Country.
After all, as the besieged Texans at the Alamo knew, as the encircled Red Army at Stalingrad knew, as the wee Halflings on Mt. Doom knew, what the world needs now is another celebrity wine label.
“It’s well documented that I am a wine lover,” Kathie Lee gushes like a muskrat in heat, explaining why she entered the wine trade. “I wanted to create wines I would want to drink and serve to friends in my home—an elegant chardonnay like those I tasted in California in the 1970s.”
Interesting choice of varietal and decade, considering that California chardonnays in this period were benchmarked by Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 1973, which bested some top white Burgundies at the famed ‘Judgment of Paris’ competition. As a result, many of the wines soon bopping around in Kathie’s pay grade were overly alcoholic knock-offs; heavily oaked and vanilla-flavored wood juice that was even harder to swallow that the price tags.
Elegance is a subjective descriptor, I suppose, so between me and the wall, I always thought ‘The Giff’ was a rather inelegant meathead myself.
Anyway, Kathie partnered up with the Scheid Family Vineyards, which I expect means she threw a bunch of money at them, since the ‘vineyard’ is essentially a custom crush brand builder who will cash your check and hand you your wine. And voila: Beside the chardonnay, Kathie Lee has released a Shied-made ‘blend’ that she can spill all over the red carpet when the Emmys roll around.
Further distancing herself from actually drinking wine, Kathie Lee recently told USA Today, “That glass in front of me on TV most mornings sits as a prop. It’s a prop which basically says, ‘Party with us. Come join the party.’ That’s really all it’s there to do. I mean, I don’t drink at 10 a.m…”
That makes one of us, Kathie. But coolaballoolies, baby; I expect that your new venture is also merely a prop, so that you can wedge ‘winemaker’ between your equally ludicrous titles ‘songwriter’ and ‘comic’.
I can’t review the product because nobody has sent me any samples, but not for nothing, Kath—have your girl call my girl, because I’m not one to look a GIFFT horse in the mouth.
To be continued… (?)
Hey Chris – I love your blog and was hoping you’d be available early next week for a brief phone interview? I’d like to feature you as our upcoming Quick Sip – it’s a Q&A/profile with a different blogger every week. To date, we’ve featured 1Wine Dude, On the Wine Trail in Italy, Terroirist, Grape Belt, and the Alcohol Professor to name a few. Do let me know. The piece would run Sunday the 20th with a circulation of 526,000 here in the Bay Area and another 2 million online and mobile. My deadline is Thursday (4/11) so we’d need to chat before then. I’d also need a high res jpeg of you doing something wine-y.
Food & Wine Writer
Bay Area News Group