Wine Songs: All-Time Top 30
This is what happens when I find myself home alone on a cold rainy night with a lot of unopened wine and an iTunes habit that borders on obsession. This list, though somewhat thoroughly researched, is far from scientific. But hey, if VH1 can produce the Top 100 Child Stars of All-Time, why can't I make a similarly pointless wine song list? I have too much time on my hands. Cheers.
1. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel
How can this not be the #1 wine song off all time? It begins and ends with Joel's instantly recognizable lyrics "A bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rosé instead?" and the imagery of an in-his-prime Billy Joel with a gorgeous date (perhaps ex-wife Christie Brinkley?) dining at a New York City restaurant and having this verbal exchange with a waiter just makes it that much more perfect. This song made wine cool to a generation of Billy Joel fans. On an A&E special, Joel said he came up with the "Bottle of white, bottle of red" line while he was dining at a restaurant and a waiter actually came up to him and said, "Bottle of white... bottle of red... perhaps a bottle of rose instead?". In a later interview, Joel cites the second side of The Beatles album Abbey Road as one of the main influences behind Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.
2. Red, Red, Wine by Neil Diamond
Make me forget that I, Still need her so"
Originally written and recorded by Neil Diamond, Red Red Wine was then covered by Tony Tribe and most famously by UB40 in the late 1980's. With a lyrical theme of red wine as a prescription for lost love, the Neil Diamond version is actually much more sad and desperate than the poppier UB40 version. Diamond's version only reached number sixty-three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968. UB40's 1988 re-release reached US #1.
3. Killer Queen by Queen
"She keeps Moet et Chandon, In her pretty cabinet
'Let them eat cake' she says, Just like Marie Antoinette"
Any band that can drop a lyrical nod to "Moet at Chandon", the world's largest champagne house, in a rock song deserves a spot on the list. That the band is Queen and the song about a high class call girl vaults this to number 3. In the New Musical Express November 2, 1974, Queen singer Freddie Mercury elucidates on this song: "It's about a high class call girl. I'm trying to say that classy people can be whores as well. That's what the song is about, though I'd prefer people to put their interpretation upon it - to read into it what they like."
4. Hotel California by The Eagles
"Mirrors on the ceiling, the pink champagne on ice
And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device'"
An iconic song with multiple wine references, this song did for wine what Jim Morrison did for whiskey. I mean seriously, how many burnt out ex-hippies soon to become yuppies started drinking pink champagne on ice after this song came out?
Urban legend has attributed the name "Hotel California" to many actual physical locations, one being The California State Mental Hospital at Camarillo. The lyric: '"So I called up the captain, Please bring me my wine, He said "We haven't had that spirit here since 1969"' supposedly backs this up as the hospital staff used to give wine to the patients to calm them before dinner. This practice was halted in -you guessed it- 1969.
5. Cracklin' Rosie by Neil Diamond
"Cracklin' Rosie, you're a store-bought woman
You make me sing like a guitar hummin'"
On the surface this song appears to be about a spirited woman named Rosie. Truth be told it's about drinking a cheap blush wine. Cracklin' Rosie is a type of wine drunk by a native Canadian tribe that Diamond had visited in Canada. The title refers to rosé wine (misspelled, deliberately or not as Rosie) which is "crackling" - a US term equivalant to pétillant or lightly sparkling. Apparently the tribe had more men than women. Cracklin' Rosie was the nickname they used for their homemade alcoholic brew, which the single men, who did not have dates, would sit around the fire and drink together.
6. Champagne Supernova by Oasis
"Some day you will find me caught beneath the landslide
In a champagne supernova - A champagne supernova in the sky"
Does a cooler song title exist? Noel Gallagher got the title when he misheard the name of the Pixies album Bossanova. Apparently, he was watching a documentary about champagne at the time. This seven-minute anthem is the closing track on Oasis (The UK's 90's version of The Beatles for you old timers out there) record-breaking album (What's the Story) Morning Glory?. Former Jam frontman Paul Weller provided the lead guitar and some of the backing vocals on the track.
7. Old Red Wine by The Who
"Old red wine, not worth a dime; we'll have to finish it after crossing the line."
By no means a famous Who song, it's one of two new songs off their 2004 greatest hits compilation Then and Now. Written by Pete Townshend in New York during The Who's 2002 tour, what makes the song noteworthy is that it was written in memory of bass player John Entwistle, who died on June 27, 2002. Entwistle loved red wine and often drank it past it's prime, which inspired the lyrics.
8. Strawberry Wine by Deana Carter
"He was working through college on my grandpa's farm.
I was thirsting for knowledge and he had a car.
I was caught somewhere between a woman and a child.
One restless summer we found love growing wild.
On the banks of the river on a well beaten path.
It's funny how those memories they last.
Like strawberry wine and seventeen."
Let's list the cool aspects of this song:
-First the awards: It was #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and was a 1997 Grammy Award nominee for Best Country Song.
-It's got a cool title.
-The song is on Deanna Carter's humorously titled album Did I Shave My Legs for This?. C'mon.... that title has to make you chuckle.
-The Dixie Chicks did a cool cover of the song.
-And lastly, the lyrics tell that time honored story of teenage lust and innocence lost. Read the lyrics and tell me you don't wish you had a little "Strawberry Wine" in your life right now?
9. Babylon Sisters by Steely Dan
This list includes any songs I found that make lyrical references to specific wines. In this case, Steely Dan references a German cherry wine liquor called Kirshwasser.
"Drink kirschwasser from a shell
San Francisco show and tell"
German for "cherry water", often known simply as Kirsch (from German "Kirsche" for "cherry") in the English-speaking world, Kirshwasser is a clear brandy made from double distillation of the fermented juice of a small black cherry. Unlike cherry liqueurs and many "cherry brandies", Kirschwasser is not sweet. Traditionally, it is served cold in a very small glass and taken as an apéritif. However, people in the German-speaking regions where Kirschwasser originates would more usually serve it after dinner, and high-quality Kirschwasser would more likely be served at room temperature or warmed by the hands, like other brandies.
10. Alligator Wine by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Take a dash of child-like imagination and a hint of witchcraft and you get Alligator Wine by Screamin Jay Hawkins. The lyrics read almost like an old school nursery rhyme:
"Take the blood out of an alligator
Take the left eye of a fish, yeah
Take the skin off of a frog, yeah
And mix it up in a dish
Add a cup of grease swamp water
And then countin' one to nine
Spit over your left shoulder
And you got alligator wine"
Perhaps the first "shock" rocker, Hawkins sometimes used macabre props onstage. He is famed chiefly for his powerful, operatic vocal delivery & wildly theatrical performances of songs such as I Put a Spell on You and Constipation Blues.
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