SPOILER ALERT! This article contains details from the first half of "The Walking Dead" Season 7 — if you're not caught up, read at your own risk!
Three months ago, bemoaning the lengthy delay before the return of "Game of Thrones" and searching for another show to binge watch, I reluctantly tried the much-lauded "The Walking Dead." I slogged through the first few episodes — cringing with every squishing sound, as knives and axes and other sharp objects were buried in the heads of the walkers — and then, suddenly, I was hopelessly, irrevocably hooked. Shannon and I greedily binged our way through six and a half seasons ... and now we have to wait, with everyone else.
On Feb. 12, the second half of the season begins, and I'll be ready, Michigan wine in hand. The question is, what will I be drinking? And what will YOU be drinking? Here are a few ideas, based on your character preferences ...
If your favorite character is Rick . . . In the Season 7 premiere, Rick imagined an alternate reality in which all of the characters were unscathed and intact, sitting around a picnic table, passing food, laughing, chatting, bouncing their children on their knees, without a care in the world. To continue this fantasy, we think Rick would enjoy Chateau de Leelanau Solem Farm Red (MBTB Royal Oak and Shelby, $20/bottle). Described by the winemaker as a "backyard BBQ red," this casual wine has a hint of sweetness and spice that makes it great for kicking back with friends at a summer picnic . . . even if it's only in your delusional daydream. Another option for Rick: Verterra Winery Chaos Red Cuvée (MBTB Royal Oak and Shelby, $19/bottle). Rick has led his crew through endless chaos, both zombie- and human-fueled, and his personality is about as rare as the Michigan-grown Malbec included in this fruit-forward dry red blend.
If your favorite character is Daryl . . . Our favorite badass-meets-sensitive soul . . . With his ubiquitous motorcycle, we can picture him throwing back Peninsula Cellars Hot Rod Cherry (MBTB Royal Oak and Shelby, $15.99/bottle). This sweet, high-octane blend of Montmorency and Balaton cherries has a hint of ginger spice, and it has a memorable bottle to boot, emblazoned with flames. We can just picture Daryl riding a matching flame-adorned motorcycle in the pre- (or perhaps post-?) apocalyptic world.
If your favorite character is Michonne . . . This katana-wielding warrior takes no prisoners, and she's risen from a reluctant addition to the group to one of its cherished leaders. She makes us think of Chateau Aeronautique Aviatrix Crimson (MBTB Royal Oak, Shelby Township and Auburn Hills, $29.95/bottle). The name refers to a female aviator, and this Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is bold, like Michonne. We could see her kicking back with this one in those briefly glimpsed pre-zombie flashbacks, where she demonstrated an affinity for wine.
If your favorite character is Maggie . . . Even after losing everyone she loves — including her father, sister and husband — to the human element of the zombie apocalypse, Maggie continues to persevere with class and sass. Her triumphant apple pie-fueled revelry after using a tractor to defend Hilltop against a mob of walkers, paired with her girl-next-store, farm-raised goodness, makes us think of Left Foot Charley Cinnamon Girl (MBTB Auburn Hills, $8/bottle). This blend of Northern Michigan apples, steeped with whole cinnamon sticks, is like apple pie in a glass.
If your favorite character is Carol . . . As she proved while pretending to be a happy housewife in the early days of Alexandria, Carol can be downright smooth . . . but she also has bite and grit ("Just look at the flowers . . .") and she's incredibly complicated. She reminds us of Chateau Aeronautique Syrah (MBTB Royal Oak and Shelby Township, $24.95/bottle). It's complex and spicy, with notes of black pepper, black licorice, black plum and black cherry. We'll raise a glass of it in hopes that Carol's former kickass self will be returning in the midseason premiere.
If your favorite character is Sasha . . . Sasha's had it hard, thanks to the back-to-back deaths of boyfriend Bob and brother Tyreese (not to mention countless other friends). Over the years, she's evolved from fairly nondescript to a stone-cold soldier with a death wish. If she were drinking, we think she'd be hitting the hard stuff . . . which is why we'd recommend Sandhill Crane Vineyards 840 (MBTB Royal Oak and Shelby Township, $48.40/bottle). Fortified with brandy for a warming kick, this port-style wine has aromas of vanilla, caramel and burnt sugar, with ripe plum, fig, sweet tobacco and vanilla on the palate. Bonus: It would pair perfectly with one of Abraham's remaining cigars.
If your favorite character is Eugene . . . Everyone knows that Eugene wouldn't be alive if he hadn't had the gang protecting him over the years. He's sweet — a big fat liar, but still sweet — and delicate, while still having enough acid to stand up to Abraham and Rosita (at least, every once in awhile). We'd pair him with Marland Late Harvest Riesling (MBTB Auburn Hills, $19/bottle). This Riesling has a fragrant nose of fresh peach, white flowers and ripe apples, with undertones of apricot and orange, and its sweetness is balanced out with acidity. Here's to hoping Eugene taps into a little more of that acid now that he's one of Negan's hostages.
If your favorite character is Rosita . . . Rosita is a feisty firecracker; Verterra Winery Chaos Sparkler (MBTB Shelby Township and Royal Oak, $24/bottle) reminds us of her spark and spunk. This demi-sec sparkling wine has notes of pear and apple and acidity that makes the fruit pop. We can see her raising a glass of bubbly after she finally avenges her former flame — you know that's coming. Let's hope the next attempt goes better than the botched one at Alexandria.
If your favorite character is Tara . . . Tara's girlfriend, Denise, took an arrow to the eye while scavenging pop for her, so we think Tara would be craving something refreshing and carbonated ... like Chateau de Leelanau Cherry Bay Cider (MBTB Royal Oak, $24/growler). Made with Northern Michigan apples and cherries, this hard cider is simultaneously sweet and tart, and refreshing for those hot days bumbling through rival seaside settlements.
If your favorite character is Negan . . . Even after he bashes in Glenn's and Abraham's heads? Really? What's wrong with you? Kidding — it's hard not to laugh at the show's resident wise-cracking psychopath, even if he's putting down half the population of Alexandria in between quips. Unfortunately for Negan, we don't carry any liquor, but we do think he'd be a fan of Mackinaw Trail Winery Unrestricted Cuvée No. 7 (MBTB Auburn Hills, $38/bottle). This barrel-aged blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot has notes of blackberry, plum and beechwood. It's deep and it's rich, and we all know Negan is a fan of the finer things in life, especially when someone else is scavenging it for him. But whatever wine he gets, it better be plentiful, because LUCILLE IS THIRSTY!
If your favorite character is Enid . . . Carl's sidekick is constantly sneaking off, disobeying authority and generally being a defiant teenager . . . in between helping save the lives her cohorts, that is. In a pre-zombie world of rules and adult oversight, we think she'd often find herself in (Peninsula Cellars) Detention (MBTB Royal Oak and Shelby Township, $15.99/bottle). This blend of Baco Noir, Lemberger and Cabernet Franc is a mixed berry bombshell on the palate, and is best sipped while getting into trouble.
If your favorite character is Carl . . . may I suggest a nice glass of Boone's Farm?
Can't pick a favorite character? Sandhill Crane Vineyards Night of the Living Red (MBTB Royal Oak, $17.95/bottle) or Revenge of the Living Red (MBTB Shelby Township, $18.95/bottle) will do just fine . . . for obvious reasons. The name says it all. Both are semi-sweet reds spiced with vanilla, orange peel, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Revenge kicks it up a notch with infused estate-grown hot peppers. Bonus: The creepy label art pairs perfectly with the squishing of zombie brains.
What will you be drinking during the TWD midseason premiere? Come tell us on Facebook:
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Article by Cortney Casey, Michigan By The Bottle Tasting Room/MichiganByTheBottle.com. We strive to be your definitive source of information on Michigan wines; therefore, we welcome you to link to this page or print an excerpt that leads back to our site. However, as our work is copyrighted, we kindly ask that you do not copy and paste this or any other portion of Michigan By the Bottle in its entirety on another site. We appreciate your cooperation. For reprint inquiries, please email email@example.com.