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Drag is an exercise in layers.
The transformation is undeniable, at times unbelievable. Behind every contoured cheekbone, beneath every cascade of curls is a real origin story.
Drag is reality reimagined. At its heart, it is a reaction to and an evolution of the natural-born self, a radical act of creation.
Add to that a cultural impact so profound and a referential history rich in homage. Drag is an art form of the highest order. It bears repeating.
We talk about wine in a similar fashion. It is a meeting of man and nature, wherein the transformation from grape to wine is a reflection of place and time, transposed into colors, scents, flavors, and sensations. It is making something new out of something true. Winemaking is a poetry of accords. There is beauty in harmony, but it’s the complexity, all of those layers, the story they tell that makes wine a masterpiece.
In the spirit of Pride month, we paired eight inimitable queens with wines based on personality and style. We even reached out to one of them to ask her opinion… read on and raise a glass to these artists whose good work extends well beyond the runway.
1. Bianca by the Bottle
Costume designer, actor, comedian, author, and Season Six winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Bianca Del Rio blew through the competition with the force of a category 5 hurricane. Not once in the bottom, she approached every challenge with energy and unforgettable humor, coining phrases like: Not today Satan, not today, and reminding us all that beauty fades, dumb is forever (as Judge Judy on “Snatch Game“).
Wine Pairing: Lambrusco Secco
A sparkling red wine originating in the central Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, it is the wine of choice to accompany heaping plates of salami in and around the city of Bologna (Baloney!).Lambrusco is straight forward, but not simple. The nose is all big fruit and flowers. It’s a little rustic a little wild, and definitely snappy. Like Bianca, Lambrusco is effervescent, high energy, and best served cold as ice (with a side of salami).
Try: Venturini Baldini Marchese Manodori Lambrusco
Find it online. Alternatively, ask for a dry Lambrusco Rosso.
2. Unboxing: Shangela
Actor, singer, dancer, and infamous comeback kid, Shangela became famous for her surprise appearances throughout “Drag Race,” and as the frontrunner on “All Stars Season 3”. She narrowly lost that crown, but Shangela just keeps coming back. With an exhausting list of TV and film credits (including the best few minutes of the recent reboot of ‘A Star is Born’), she shows no sign of slowing down.
Wine Pairing: From the Tank Rouge
There is a downhome ease to Shangela that makes you want to be her best friend, but when she turns it out, her elegance will surprise and impress you. No shade to Franzia (we’ve all been there), but Shangela has proven herself to be top-shelf quality wherever she aspires.
From the Tank box wine is a collaboration between US importer Jenny and François and Rhône winery Domaine de La Patience. Delicious and earth friendly, a classic Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvèdre. No oak barrels or final filtration, so the flavor of the fruit really shines through (the realness!).
A warm and sunny red wine with notes of smoky red fruit, violet, sweet herbs, and a touch of chocolate. Rich ripe cherry and berries on the palate with supple acidity. The finish is floral with a signature dash of black pepper. Easy to drink and elegant. Pull out a box and surprise someone. Halleloo!
3. Snap.Crackle Pop: Alyssa Edwards
Alyssa Edwards is a superstar. Dancer, choreographer, TV personality and entrepreneur, she brings a bombastic energy to every project. The ‘Vanessa Williams of Drag” was once dethroned as Miss Gay America for business conflicts, but since then, like the tight little bubbles in a flute of Champagne, she just keeps rising.
Wine Pairing: Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut Champagne NV Find it online or ask your local store.
Known for her precision dance moves, sassy Texas twang and signature lip pop, Alyssa could only be paired with a sparkler. Texas has recently jumped on the Pet-Nat train and now produces a range of ancestral method, funky, naturally effervescent, unfiltered wines.
While Edwards herself may lack a filter from time to time, she ultimately has the polish and class of Champagne, crystalline, precise, and glittering gold. Maison Perrier-Jouët is a legendary Champagne house, fit for queen mother Edwards and adorned in an iconic art nouveau floral motif. Crisp yet creamy, with a dazzling panorama of aromas ranging from citrus to hazelnuts and vanilla with a lingering mineral finish.
4. Get Those (Tasting) Notes Away from My Face: Latrice Royale
A beloved, seasoned Queen with a Miss Congeniality win and two “All Stars” seasons under her belt, Latrice exudes warmth and infectious humor to everything she touches, from live performance to film, TV, and music. She channels a very extra Ursula in her music video, Excuse the Beauty, and among other projects is an ordained minister. Can I get an amen? What’s next for Latrice? One thing is certain, there are dangerous curves ahead.
Our Wine Pairing: Shiraz*
The darker the berry the sweeter aromas… When it comes to large and in charge, chunky, yet funky bold red wines, Shiraz (Syrah) reigns supreme for its smoldering and smoky black fruit notes, impenetrable hue, and expansive and velvety palate that lingers on and on like a breath of cayenne pepper.
*Her Wine Pairing: Pink Moscato
But wait! We asked Latrice for her take on the issue and she gave us a big, voluminous glass of something else. Watch her video review of Pink Moscato, and find one online.
5. (Full) Body Ody Ody: Eureka O’Hara
The queen is back serving body after an early exit from “Drag Race Season 9” due to injury, and nearly swiping the crown on Season 10. They are joining the “All Stars” cast at the end of this month and we are ready! The co-star of HBO’s “We’re Here” also writes, produces, and stars in a series of music videos and is a celebrated icon of body positivity.
Wine Pairing: California Chardonnay (Barrel-Aged)
A big, beautiful nose with a body to match, when it comes to opulent white wines, there’s nothing like a sunny, swarthy California Chardonnay. Find it online or ask your store for a bold, buttery California Chardonnay.
Try: Rombauer Chardonnay 2019. It’s still young and fresh, so there’s a lift to all those buttery, vanilla spice notes, along with ripe peach, melon, and creamy lemon zest. Like Eureka, it only gets bigger, better, and bolder with time. More to love!
6. Thin, White, and Salty: Miz Cracker
Like every nice little Jewish girl, Miz Cracker serves up brains with her blintzes. A regular contributing writer for Slate, in addition to her appearances on “Drag Race” and “All Stars,” she produces a web series, Review with a Jew, a podcast, and music videos, both original songs and parodies. She famously brought her expertise to ‘Jappy’ a parody with Sherry Vine of Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy,’ and recently wrapped up a tour of her one-woman show, ‘It’s Time.’ She may be little, but she’s a lot. L’Chaim!
Wine Pairing: Kosher Sancerre
It’s Kosher, Cracker! Thin, white, and salty brings to mind a dry, white, light-bodied wine with a mouthwatering (i.e., salty) mineral finish. Domaine De Panquelaine Sancerre 2020 is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grown in the Sancerre region of France, known for distinctive flinty aromas and flavors. It’s kosher too. Make mammalah happy!
7. Yes Way, Rosé
Season 13 finalist Rosê brings not only a signature color, but also a reliable and unforgettable style. The actor-singer-dancer is a triple threat who always makes a splash. Scottish-born and American-raised, Rosé is no stranger to the stage, her first performance being an American accent when her family relocated to Texas. A member of Stephanie’s Child, as featured on ‘The Voice’ and ‘America’s Got Talent,’ she recently released her first single, The Devil in the Details. As far as we’re concerned it is rosé season 365 days of the year.
Wine Pairing: Miraval Rosé 2020
Rosé wine ranges from easy breezy poolside sipper to something more substantial. Don’t be fooled by the pale color, rosé can make an impact, starting with a distinctive and shapely bottle, beautiful savory strawberry notes and a salty finish. Miraval Rosé is the fruit of fellow performers, Brangelina from their Provençal Estate. Find it online.
Rosé does her own wine reviews on the YouTube series, Wine Crush Wednesday so we’ll see what she has to say about this pick.
8. The Ebony Enchantress: Symone
The Drag Race Season 13 winner brought wit and wisdom to one sensational runway after another. Her looks during throughout the season offered a comprehensive study of the American Black identity that bridged humor, style, and seriousness. Along the way she embodied and referenced cultural icons including Harriet Tubman and Grace Jones, and offered an elevated take on streetwear. Her stoically beautiful white gown embellished with red bullet holes and a fascinator adorned with the phrase, say their names, combined a striking silhouette with a smart sting of social commentary.
Wine Pairing: Etna Rosso
This fresh face has a huge future ahead of her, but she has already proven herself to be complex and mature well beyond her years. Etna Rosso wine is named for Mount Etna, the active volcano upon whose slopes the grapes grow at 500 meters above sea level.
Etna wines are known to be precocious. The fiery landscape, altitude, and mineral-packed soil produces wines with a full spectrum of aromas including savory rose, wild berries and black pepper. Explosive depth and complexity at a very young age. Sound familiar?