I am starting the second season of Pairing Wine With… with a bang: Seinfeld is maybe my single favorite television show of all time.
It feels weird even describing this show. Who doesn’t know Seinfeld? The show nearly single-handedly defined sitcoms of the 1990s. Running from July 1989 until May 1998, Seinfeld followed the day-to-day lives of Jerry Seinfeld (a fictionalized version of the real Jerry Seinfeld, who co-created the show), George Costanza, Elaine Benes, and Cosmo Kramer. The four friends live in New York City, and are among the most self-centered, misanthropic, nigh-sociopathic characters in television history.
And we all loved them. Each and every one.
The show was all about “nothing,” a concept spoofed by itself when Jerry and George pitched a sitcom about “nothing” (called “Jerry”) to NBC in Seinfeld’s fourth season. But by being about nothing, it was kind of about everything in the individual characters' lives, which drew us in week after week.
There was never really a consistent “opening credits sequence” for the show, though most people can instantly recognize the slap-bass guitar line theme song. Instead of just playing that, I’m going to share with you one of my all-time favorite Seinfeld moments:
Seinfeld’s characters were mean, nasty, superficial nitpickers, who were always looking for (and finding) the worst in other people. But we loved them, because they made us laugh. Maybe we didn’t want to admit it, but there is a fair amount of Jerry, George, Elaine, and/or Kramer in each of us. What those four people (along with the countless recurring and guest characters) created out of the rottenness of the human soul is some of the funniest television ever.
So… the pairing?
Seinfeld delivered comedy beauty from a source rotten to the core. So, to me, the perfect pairing is with Sauternes, or with Sauternes-style botrytized dessert wine.
Sauternes wine is usually a blend of semillon and sauvignon blanc, but the common thread is always that the grapes involved are botryitzed, or infected with botrytis cinerea, aka “The Noble Rot.” That’s right, the grapes themselves are actually rotten at harvest.
But the wine they make? Spectacular. Delicious. Enthralling. Gorgeous. From rot comes beauty. Just like with Seinfeld.
Here are some botrytized dessert wines I can easily recommend: