On Wednesday nights, before E! Entertainment tapes “The Soup,” the show’s writers take turns bringing in bottles of their favorite wines. It doesn’t hurt that host Joel McHale is a former employee of Larchmont Village Wine and Spirits.
So how much wine do comedy writers drink?
“Enough that we should be looking at termination, intervention or a serious product placement deal,” says writer Tess Rafferty.
Gone are the days of pizza, beer and cocaine in the writer’s room. Health consciousness and propriety require different choices in late-night sustenance.
“If you were pounding back a tumbler of bourbon, it might not look good,” says Reid Harrison, who has written for “Men Behaving Badly” and “Seinfeld.” “Wine is more accepted, more genteel. Plus, there are better, cheaper wines nowadays.”
However, no one’s drinking two-buck Chuck. When “Mind of Mencia” head writer Robert Morton was an executive producer on “Late Show With David Letterman,” the host regularly presented him with cases of Chateau Lafite Rothschild for Christmas and birthdays. The “Mencia” staff now uncorks a Rothschild three out of five days a week.
“He’d give me cases of this stuff and I was in my 20s,” says Morton. “I’d throw it in the bottom of my hot closet in New York. One out of six bottles are ruined now, so it’s a crapshoot. But it makes it fun.”
We asked comedy writers to riff on the wines that, they say, reflect their shows.
Who: Writers from Comedy Central’s “Mind of Mencia”
Wine: 2002 Pago de Valdoneje ($12), a Spanish red made from Mencia grapes. Woodsy and dry, but not funny– the Gallagher of wines.
Why: “Like ‘Mind of Mencia,’ every ingredient was handpicked by a Hispanic guy.”
Who: NBC’s “The Tonight Show”
Wine: 1998 Val di Suga Brunello di Montalcino Spuntali ($60)
Why: “It’s just a great Tuscan wine.”
Who: Fox’s “King of the Hill,” represented by writer Christy Stratton
Wine: 2004 Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay
Why: “Both reflect on me, not the show. I like whites (because) I’m a klutz. I don’t want to ruin a couch.”
Who: E! Entertainment’s “The Soup”
Wine: 2004 Monterra Cabernet ($9) Bold, fruity.
Said one writer: “If you served me this wine we’d be friends, but not great friends.”
Why: “We’re just basic cable–we have to get the most for our dollar.”
Who: The late great Variety Weekend
Wine: 2004 Andre Brunel Cailloux Chateauneuf du Pape blanc ($35)
Why: Made from grapes produced under tremendous stress.