If You Drive This Car, Drink This Wine

Thoughts on pairing vehicles with vino

It’s no secret that here in L.A., what you drive says a lot about your personality, but you may not have realized that your car-class also substantiates your preferences in wine.

If you drive a: BMW, Mercedes-Benz, or Audi
Drink this: Chardonnay, French, or Central Coast California
Find them at: Silver Lake Wine

These German luxury sedans let fellow Angelenos know you own the road. And it’s not exactly that you are against using your indicators while changing lanes, it’s simply that you’re above them. Like the post-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat, you love the color of a blank canvas: white—and Chardonnay is the white wine that mirrors your car-class: opulence, status, sexiness. It’s all there in a glass of rich, mouth-coating California Chardonnay, backed by racy acidity that’s so sexy. Many bottles will give those French Chardonnays a run for their money (your money), but you must drink French wines to appreciate the differing styles of Central Coast winemakers—crisp and mineral-driven vs. round and loaded with toasty baking spice aromas. 

If you drive a: Bentley or Rolls Royce
Drink this: First Growth Bordeaux, Vintage Champagne, and Sherry
Find them at: Wally’s Wine

Don’t be modest (we know you won’t). This class screams abundance, and a demand for excesses and power. Deep pockets are the pre-requisite with plenty of liquid assets, but representing two very different core values: it’s a t-shirts and jeans crowd vs. the modern day Gatsby, resplendent in his estate mansions and decadent designer custom suits. You resplendent drivers are part of the small contingent of people able and willing to spend the big bucks on the exceptionally overpriced First Growth Bordeaux wines. Neither should you hesitate to stock up on Vintage Champers: Dom, Pol Roger, Krug, Piper-Heidsieck, et al. Just invite us over before sabering.

If you drive a: Lexus
Drink this: Second Growth Bordeaux wines and Sancerre
Find them at: Wine House

Lexus cars are finely crafted things (like a classified Second Growth Bordeaux)—loaded with premium accouterments, and insulating the driver from even the most galvanizing highway noises. Lexus drivers are a predictable bunch—settled into a comfortable retirement as city dwellers with palatial country residences who bought classified First Growth Bordeaux wines when bottles ran just $60 a pop. Well, now it’s time to explore the other classified growths and for you, Second Growths are the First Growths you never had. You’ll need to buy futures of these as well, and while you’re waiting for them to arrive, and eventually age and join you in retirement, sip lavishly on much cheaper bottles of crisp, grassy and citrus-driven Sancerre wines, and talk of days gone by, strolling the grand boulevards of Paris.

If you drive a: Volkswagon Sedan or Volvo
Drink this: Muscular Spanish wines, like Rioja, Ribera del Duero and wines from Jumilla
Find them at: Venokado and Wine House

Behind these sturdy, utilitarian speeding fortresses, is the conceptual status of “luxury,” and it’s not that “luxury” is outside of the lexicon for these drivers, it’s simply so ingrained, that the reality of this car class is in the eye of the beholder. Behold: Spanish Rioja reds, made from the Tempranillo grape, are muscular and robust forces of dark-fruited nature. The reds from Ribera del Duero are as structured as your car’s exterior, bold flavors of dark cherry, blue fruits, underscored by black olive and Earl Gray notes—the name “Ribera del Duero” alone evokes a sense of safety in knowing that the juice is damn good, and when you polish off these wines and need a porch-pounder, reach for the juicy and seductive wines from Jumilla made from Monastrell grapes.

If you drive a: Hybrid (any car class and brand)
Drink this: Any wines that are “Organic,” “Bio-Dynamic” or “Pet-Nats” (petillant naturel wines)
Find them at: Domaine LA

It’s clear you are trying hard to save the environment, and with the extra money you save at the pump, stop using it to buy juice cleanses and start stocking up on wines that market themselves as “Organic” and “Biodyanamic” (they are just as healthy and they’ll make you more fun). It actually requires more energy out-put to produce org/biodynamic wines, but your car is making up for all that, so celebrate with an effervescent aromatic Pet-Nat before going liquid green.

If you drive a: Tesla Sedan
Drink this: Riesling, California Cult Wines, and Boutique Red Wines
Find them at: V Wine Room and The Cellar Manager

You drive the Jetsons’ clean car of the future—seductive, fierce, commanding, and the epitome of the body electric. But with all that electricity, you still need a little gas in your life, and dry- and off-dry Riesling is it. High-octane Riesling, that wafts of gasoline and petrol notes (just so you can be reminded of what it was like to stand at the gas pump). If you admit that Tesla is a bit cultish, Cali-cult wines and very-small production wines (under 200 case production), are right up your alley as well, and since you likely have the means to get them, find your local L.A. wine insider, who can easily get you on “the lists.”

If you drive: Luxury Sports Cars (Porsche, Maserati, Lotus, et al.)
Drink this: Burgundy (aged)
Find them at: Wally’s and Los Angeles Wine Co.

While this class of car provides a definitive rush to the owner, be it through power, speed or elegant and sleekly designed exteriors, there’s also a quality of perfection these cars carry by design and a desire to be surrounded in that perfection, even when the heading west on the 10, presents sheer chaotic bumper-to-bumper tension. You demand a flawless wine, one that exudes a perplexing perfection, that astounds and causes people to gawk in restaurants—not at you, but at the bottle of wine you’ve chosen, resting there in a special carrying-case the Sommelier nervously brought table-side—it’s all aged Burgundy for you, period.

If you drive a: Ford, Chevy, Honda, Nissan or Toyota
Drink this: Anything you can get your hands on for under $20.
Find them at: K&L

The pragmatic car, unconcerned with image, invested in practicality and reliability. This car class attracts a friendly driver, honestly concerned with safety, not entirely willing to save the environment, but who likes to donate to good causes now and then (easily the most-guilted by KPCC fund drives). If you can give $5 a month to KPCC, you can spend $5 to $20 here and there on some great value wines and you should look beyond our borders to Italy, Sicily, New Zealand and France’s Loire Valley.

If you drive a: Fiat or Mini Cooper
Drink this: Albariño, Verdejo, Viura, and Rosado
Find them at: Buzz Wine Beer Shop

Remember how Saturn Dealers tried to sell you on becoming a “member” of the community of Saturn owners? Fiat and Mini Coop drivers are unknowingly part of the Saturn Community of the future. These cars are buoyant and exude a fun-living, stylish lifestyle—a statement to the world that arrogance is enviable. And a certain persistence of adolescences reigns for these drivers, who have dreams of speeding down the Autobahn in their compact, illusive world. Because of this, you must drink exotic, aromatic, fun and exuberant white wines from Spain, and begin speaking immediately with a Spanish accent. Look for whites made from Albariño, Mencía or Viura grapes and chill the hell out of them while you sip on moderately chilled Rosado (Spain’s rosé wines).

If you drive a: Cadillac or Lincoln Town Car
Drink this: Chianti and Chianti Classico DOCG
Find them at: K&L

 Once, these were the all-luxury, enviable ride, but years of taxi cab companies commandeering these road-boats for service has downgraded them to the car your uncle drives. And uncles go straight for Chianti. Serious old school fans should look for those large format Chiantis that come in fish-shaped bottles, while those of you who recently gave up your flip-phone for an oversized smartphone should stock up on Chianti Classico DOCG wines, because they offer enviable juice at a reasonable price-point. Sour cherry, tart tannins and the perfect accompaniment to an Italian meal, these wines are as critical to Italian winemaking history as Cadillacs and LTC’s are to the American automobile industry’s history.      

And remember: Drinking and driving is utterly stupid.