Trapped in the Wine Cellar: Sexy Wines as told through R.Kelly’s Rap Opera
February is a sexy time in Michigan. First of all, there’s Valentine’s Day. Second, it’s not warm. Winter is back, and that means snuggles for survival.
So I set forth my two-pronged path. Clearly, I had to find some sexy wines. But more important, to get in the right mindset, I had to watch all 33 Chapters of R. Kelly’s made-for-the-Internet hip hop soap opera, “Trapped in the Closet.” This is the sexiest video collection in American history. Come with me on this journey, and we’ll pick up some wine tips along the way.
Arnot-Roberts’ Trousseau is a great wine for cuddling with a loved one or cozying up with R. Kelly’s epic “Trapped in the Closet.”
Justin King/City Pulse
Chapter 1, 0:30: A downtown-wide panorama view tightens to the apartment in question, narrowing right in on the closet door. It’s good to know what we’re working with this quickly.
C1, 0:55: Did you cheat R. Kelly? With a married woman?
C1, 2:31: Things are serious. R. Kelly is now confined to the clothing storage space while the lady in question converses with her cuckold. It’s not time for wine yet.
C2, 0:15: R. Kelly is already out of the closet, gun in hand. There are 32 more chapters of this. This plot is moving quickly. We find out the husband is a pastor.
C2, 3:30: So we find out the pastor was also cheating — but with a man. We’ve now covered literally and figuratively trapped in the closet. I do not know 31 more versions of “in the closet.” This will be a compelling plot stretch.
C2, 2:45: R. Kelly’s gun discipline is worrisome. He keeps waving it around.
C4, 0:34: Omar from “The Wire” appears as an ornery officer of the law with a nicotine addiction!
C4, 2:40: R. Kelly is now at home enjoying some intimate time with his wife, who’s presumably still in the dark regarding his antics. But wait, he finds evidence of her infidelity! Everyone’s cheating. This is really intense.
C6, 1:10: Mr. and Mrs. Kelly are now bonding over their dramatic and nefarious behavior. This might be considered a healthy — albeit surprising — dynamic. Time for wine. I would drink something sexy here. It seems to be mid-morning, and they could probably use some brunch, perhaps some eggs Benedict. I’d go with a Soave here. Eggs and the garganega grape marry surprisingly well. Check out Pieropan’s Soave Classico, which you can snag for roughly $20.
C7, 1:00: They shot his wife’s brother, Twan, in the shoulder. This isn’t sexy right now.
C8, 0:30: R. Kelly is know feigning a southern accent to sing to Omar’s wife. It’s not convincing.
C8, 2:55: He’s in the closet again, but this time it’s Omar’s closet. R. Kelly’s smoking a cigar, but he’s just there as a storyteller, so I don’t think the cigar is a giveaway.
C9, 1:00: A slice of pie is missing from the cherry pie! Oh snap! And Omar’s wife is allergic to the cherries in the pie! Omar’s police skills came in handy for this home cooking detective work.
I’m only 30 percent of the way through this, and I have no choice but to believe everyone is terrible. But this is incredible storytelling. The canon of Western music and prurient metaphors runs deep, but the late Jani Lane of Warrant threw a bull’s-eye with “Cherry Pie” 27 years ago. This is kind of sexy.
If you want to drink sexy wine with your cherry pie, late bottle vintage port is a hot way to go. The 2009 Pousada Porto LBV is robust in with bing cherry flavor, Chambord-like density and a hint of light baking spices. This will cost about $30, which is totally fair, but you can find other late bottle vintages for a touch less than this.
C10, 1:10: We find out the Kellys have a see-thru refrigerator door. This is incredible.
C12, 2:50: Our first wine consumption on video! I did not expect this fortuitous encounter! It’s a red. It’s hard to tell what the bottle is, but it’s Bordeaux-shaped, one of those bottles that are mostly a flat cylinder. So, chances are it’s a cabernet sauvignon, merlot or a blend that focuses on one or both of said varieties.
Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon is sensual compared to the more highly structured and tannic cabernets from the nearby mountainous areas of Howell Mountain or Atlas Peak. Cade is a producer of both mountain and valley wines, and it made a stunner with its 2014 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon. Briary, leafy notes up front give way to violets, plum and black cherry concentrate. This a special bottle — and the tag reflects that at about $80.
Here’s a good shortcut, though: 2012 and 2013 West Coast cabernet sauvignons are generally low-risk and ripe. And good wines from these grapes are very easy to find. Check in with your trusted wine shop, and they’re likely to have dozens to choose from. California had some drought in 2014, but the wines from that year are still pretty great.
C14, 0:40: More wine! R. Kelly is cutting into his dinner, and his wine is only slightly red, somewhat translucent, darker than a rosé. This reminds me of another wine that is totally sexy.
The Arnot-Roberts’ Trousseau is magical in its vivacity, fresh cranberry-esque fruit and perfumed floral notes. This is lovemaking wine for wine geeks, as it behaves a touch like northern Italy’s nebbiolo grape: often translucent, floral, savory and elegant, with a sneaky structure and approaching full-bodied. This will run you about $40. If that’s too rich for your blood, look for Beaujolais wines from the 2015 harvest. While lighter in tannins, you’ll find similar floral/ fruit interplay that rarely leaves red wine drinkers disappointed.
C15, 0:30: This bizarro world of infidelities is run by people with incredible immune systems, because Twan’s shoulder gunshot wound has completely disappeared already.
C18, 1:45: The slow jam song cycle is interrupted by a choir cameo, offering “work it out” as its cathartic mantra. This is not sexy.
C20, 1:00: The acting in these last few chapters hasn’t lived up to the promise of the first half-dozen, and the plot is meandering. At least we still have wine.
C21, 2:45: Back the truck up! R. Kelly is hitting all the right notes as a serious dramatic actor in this riveting exposition with Joey the mob boss. This is a chapter not to be missed.
C30, 1:00. This whole Pimp Lucius story arc is exhausting. But we’ve almost made it to the end. The sun is coming up now. What have I done?
C33, 2:35: R. Kelly saves the best for last, appearing as Beeno. History will show Beeno’s sunflower seed consumption as multifaceted and crucial. Sylvester and Twan are on the run, only to walk into a television studio to make an appearance on a show. I could be wrong, but history has proven that television cameras have done a reasonably good a job of illuminating the whereabouts of humans located in front of them. I have to hand it to you, Mr. Kelly. That’s a cliffhanger.
Justin King is a certified sommelier and owner of Bridge Street Social, a wine and cocktails-focused restaurant in DeWitt, Michigan. He will probably watch “Trapped in the Closet” again — but only the first 10 chapters and chapter 21.
This column was originally written for the Lansing City Pulse.