by Erica Christian, sommelier and activist
Natural wine and hip-hop make for a perfect pairing. Yet, we fail to make that connection with certain styles of rap music. Yeah, we heard Jay-Z when he said, “ain’t no stoppin the Champagne from poppin” at the end of “Politics As Usual” on Reasonable Doubt. We felt that. People can ride with the celebration, but what about the grittier sounds? It’s easy to pop Champagne when listening to Jay, but rappers like Benny the Butcher, Conway the Machine, and Westside Gunn are rarely associated with wine so directly, especially bubbles. These three rappers and their group Griselda actually make the perfect pairing for pet nat. Is it really so surprising?
You see, hip-hop is terroir expressive; an expression of the holistic natural environment. Griselda’s style of rap is street rap: raw, organic, and gritty. They come from my hometown of Buffalo, NY. It's a poor, segregated industrial city plagued with violence and drug use. The struggle to grow up there is one I have been privy to and this environment is clearly represented in their music. Street rap is often painted as glorification of violence and drug use, but we value wine that's indicative of its home and don’t call that glorification. We should do the same when listening to Griselda, as it allows you a taste of their home, no different than a Loire Valley Folle Blanche/Chardonnay pet nat.
More than being representative of the streets, Griselda is the result of the pressure to survive in that environment and the success of that story. Surviving under pressure is what produces the often soft but volatile bubbles of our favorite sparkling natty wines. We drink them during celebrations and gatherings. We love them because they transform in the bottle and bring artistry to the grapes that grew from struggling vines. Griselda deserves that same love alongside your natty bubbles. Their music is something to both contemplate and celebrate.When we taste and listen, we engage with something new, but also very personal. To drink a pet nat while listening to Griselda's album What Would Chine Gun Do? (WWCD) is to immerse yourself in the extremely personal experience of navigating and surviving under pressures beyond any individual's control. Sit back. Crack a bottle open and enjoy while listening from beginning to end. Let the words and experience envelop you. Let them open your heart to something with which you may be unfamiliar. Let the wine carry you through their hardships and triumphs. Finish the last drop in celebration of their survival as it has truly created a work of art.
- Erica Christian
DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Les Cognettes pet nat, slightly sweet and rustic
LISTENING TO: What would Chinegun Do? (WWCD) by Griselda, honest and organic