Drinks with Dan Aykroyd
Blues singer, ghost buster and now wine guy
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
On a mission from God? Well, maybe, but actor Dan Aykroyd is definitely on a mission to introduce New Hampshire to his line of wines. The star of movies such as The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters and Dragnet will be at the Bedford Village Inn on Tuesday, Feb. 24, for a special wine dinner featuring his Discovery Series Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Earlier that day, Aykroyd will be at the state liquor store at 27 Coliseum Ave. in Nashua for a wine tasting and bottle signing from 3:30 to 6 p.m.
Bedford Village Inn owner Jack Carnevale said he was introduced to the wines and the dinner idea through Martignetti Companies of New Hampshire. The sold-out event will feature a menu created by executive chef Peter Agostinelli that includes chilled Maine lobster and crispy-skin sea bass to go with the chardonnay and a slow-roasted filet of beef for the cabernet sauvignon.
“It should be a real fun night with Dan Aykroyd in the room,” Carnevale said. “From what I understand, he is a real people person. I can see him mingling with the guests and talking about wine and his movies. It’s just what the world needs right now — to laugh a little and drink a little.”
Aykroyd began his wine venture in 2007 with a line from the Niagara region of Canada. Those wines, produced and distributed by Diamond Estates Wines and Spirits, quickly became popular north of the border. For the U.S. selection, Aykroyd turned to DeLoach Vineyards in Sonoma County, Calif., which is owned by Boisset Family Estates, a family-owned producer and exporter of fine wines based in Burgundy, France. The Hippo recently spoke with Aykroyd about his wines and how he got interested in the business:
Why did you want your own line of wines?
Let me start by talking about the trend of celebrities endorsing wines. There have been some very successful endeavors in celebrities putting their names on wines. Francis Coppola was able to take his persona and develop a successful line of wines. And Greg Norman down in Australia has also developed a respected wine line with his name on it. So it wasn’t a large leap for me to put my name on a line of wines that offer high value and high quality at a reasonable price.
I’m a hands-on licenser of my name. I would never just slap my name on a wine and try to sell it.
I heard you are very involved with picking your wines.
I work with great winemakers. Tom Green [with Diamond Estates] in Canada and now Jean-Charles Boisset in California.
I understand you like to pair your wines with food.
If you look at how much my weight has come up, it is pretty obvious I like to eat and drink. My friends will attest to that. The wines I’ve built are for food. Have some chicken or a nice piece of fish with the chardonnay. I picture a meal of baby lamb chops with a mint sauce and rosemary roasted potatoes. I would have it with the red. I built them as table wines.
It was around the time you were filming The Blues Brothers that you got interested in wines, wasn’t it?
Well, serious wines.
That’s right — I heard that during college you drank the cheap stuff.
Ah yes, the Jewish standby of Manischewitz and Morgan David were all we could afford.
What is it about wine that appeals to you?
My whole point is to offer quality and taste at a good price. Say you have a hardworking couple — a nurse and a drywaller. People are exposed more and more to fine dining thanks to people like Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart. So the nurse and the drywaller want to enjoy a meal with a good wine, but at a good price. Everybody can have good wine without paying an outrageous price for it.
Wines are like what they say about art — I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like when I see it. I couldn’t give you all the information on sulfites or the percentage of the type of grapes in a wine, but I know what I like to drink. You don’t have to be a wine geek to enjoy wine. It’s unrestricted.
I’ve heard that some people who will be attending the dinner are planning to dress in Blues Brothers attire. Any chance that Elwood might show up and sing a line or two?
Well, Elwood has trouble traveling around the United States. Too many warrants out for his arrest. But if there’s a band around, I might could jump up and do some singing in his place.
Is there anything else you would like people to know?
I’m having the time of my life and engaging with people much smarter than I am about this business. The passion of these guys — the passion that Tom Green and Jean-Charles have about wine is outstanding.