#28 CUM LAUDE

Every graduate earns honors in 2021 for the essential academic achievement: making it through the school year.

Commencements, virtual and in-person, are under way. And while the celebrations differ in style and attendance, there are drinks to go with each one.

Here are 10 choices for 10 degrees.

B.A. – 2020 Domaine de Cala Classic Rose (★★ $17.50) is a bright, fruity taste of the season. It should hearten the humanities majors, especially those entering the workplace armed with classics and philosophy, with a four-grape blend from the Provencal estate of top chef Joachim Splichal.

B.S. – 2018 Decoy Sonoma County Zinfandel (★★ $25) has enough structure and spice, plus plenty of red fruit. Focused and versatile, and offering much at a comparatively modest price, it might be of special interest to the neuroscience and biochemistry students as they face a world of surprises.

M.F.A – 2016 Henschke Henry’s Seven (★★ $48) delivers lush color and the aromas of blue and black fruit in a harmonious package. Mostly shiraz, it’s a Barossa beauty, artfully South Australian in every way.

M.B.A. – Blood x Sweat x Tears Vodka (★★ $27.99) is a small-batch production made at an Oregon distillery that began in what had been an abandoned laundromat. Hard work and assertive style, from a self-taught distiller.

M.S.W. – Dixie Southern Vodka (★★ $18.99) uncorks dry and to the point. The vodka is made in Charleston, S.C. It’s fine either neat or in any cocktail that shows creativity and care in all situations.

M.C.S. – 2019 J. Lohr Arroyo Vista Chardonnay (★★ $25) is a balanced wine with notes of apple and cream, with traces of citrus and pear. It solves pairing problems, for computer scientists and others, and is satisfying with a lot of cuisines.

D.N.P. – 2018 The Hess Collection Allomi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (★★ $36) is highlighted with the aroma of berries and vanilla. Well-priced and well-done, it nurses you along as the company to many dishes, particularly starring red meat.

PhD – 2018 Goldeneye Confluence Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir (★★★★ $88) is complex, ripe, and heady with strawberry and plum. There’s a hint of mint and a floral note, too, leading to a long finish. All the clones come together in a memorable package not easily wrapped up.

J.D. – 2016 Duckhorn Vineyards Howell Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (★★★★ $100) is a concentrated, powerful red finished judiciously with a little merlot and cabernet franc. Black cherry and plum, herbs and brown sugar contribute to the aroma. Expect it to age long and gracefully.

M.D. – 2017 Paraduxx X2 Napa Valley Red Wine (★★★★ $100) is more than squared. The exceptional blend is 90 percent cabernet sauvignon and 10 percent zinfandel. Balanced and bold, layered and lush, it’s the right medicine, with suggestions of black cherry, blueberry, chocolate, and pepper.

LESS FILLING, TASTES GOOD

Light beers typically have tastes that go from barely flavored water to low-cal shadows of what you want to drink. It’s a category dominated by Budweiser, Coors, and Miller, a trio that Miller Lite still leads.

But there have been major improvements, notably Sam Adams Light, Yuengling Light Lager, Tecate Light, and Corona Light. Sapporo Pure is a new, tasty addition.

The crisp and refreshing Japanese brew is 90 calories, 2.4g carbs, 4 percent alcohol by volume and should appeal to fans of the original Sapporo as well as weight watchers and fans of Japanese fare. A six-pack of Sapporo Pure is $8.99 to $9.99; a 12 oz. can, about $1.50.

UNCANNY

Beak & Skiff is an apple orchard, cidery, and brewery. It releases alcoholic beverages via a line called 1911 Established. The newest offering, ideal for summer, is Watermelon Mint Hard Cider.

Expect more than a few to be opened at the beach, poolside, or wherever someone is thirst over the next couple of months and beyond. There’s just enough mint flavor to accent the fruit in this uncomplicated refresher. The e-commerce price/quantity is 12 16-oz. cans for $55.50.

6 O’clock Gin, which produces fine, craft London Dry, Sloe, Brunel, and Damson gins, is set for warmer weather with a canned, ready-to-drink, gin-and-tonic cocktail.

Canned cocktails aren’t new. But one that uses higher quality ingredients might require more than a quick search. These r-t-d G&Ts will get your attention for their clean, smooth refreshment, portability, and mixologist-free enjoyment. They’re $4.29 for a can, $49.99 for a 12-pack.

GINNED UP

GIN XII (★★★ $32.99), floral and refined, brings together a dozen botanicals in a medium-bodied number from Distilleries et Domaine de Provence. It’s a tribute, however, to the vibrant juniper of Provence and boasts a diverting spice note. GIN XII, paired with Vermouth de Forcalquier, which includes the taste of anise, cinnamon, lemon, and peppercorns, will lead to a very dry, herbaceous martini. Add lemon zest and serve in chilled martini glasses. Imagine fields of lavender and red poppies, purple irises and yellow peonies.

LAST STRAW

The numbers are grim: 100 billion disposable cups end up in landfills each year and 500 million plastic straws are thrown away every day.

It may not change everything all at once, but GoSili has a new, colorful line of reusable silicone drinkware that at least lets you do your part. The producer also plans to donate 1 percent of sales to conservation and ocean cleanup efforts.

The 20-oz. GoSili reusable cups are $11 each, and $38 for a four-pack; the straws, $9 for a six-pack. They’re dishwasher safe and may be boiled to sterilize. The cups in the company’s “Ocean” line have an embedded steel ring that prevents them from collapsing when gripped. Available at GoSili.com

STAGE AND SCREEN

“Mike Nichols: A Life” (Penguin Press, $35) by Mark Harris is an irresistible, entertaining, absorbing, moving biography of an extraordinary talent.

Nichols, born Igor Peschkowsky in Berlin, came to the United States, and would become a dazzling director of plays and movies, a producer, and comedian. He’d win 8 Tony Awards, four primetime Emmys, a Grammy, and an Oscar. His improv, comic collaborations with Elaine May were incisive, influential satires, sounding as pointed and funny today as they were in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Harris’ insightful book is riveting and recommended to anyone unfamiliar with Nichols’ achievements as well as those who’ve spent decades enjoying his work. It’s a full portrait of the artist and the man, as sharp and ambitious as his subject.

Nichols won an Oscar for directing “The Graduate,” the comedy-drama classic that, along with Arthur Penn’s milestone “Bonnie and Clyde,” should have dominated the 1967 Academy Awards. But evocative and earnest “In the Heat of the Night” received the Best Picture nod.

“The Graduate” was Nichols’ second movie. He also was nominated for an Oscar for his screen debut: the scalding, scathing 1966 adaptation of Edward Albee’s landmark “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” He lost to the respected, award-winning director Fred Zinnemann, whose film, the stately “A Man for All Seasons,’’ won the Best Picture statuette, too.

Nichols’ films also included “Carnal Knowledge,” “Catch-22,” “Closer,” “Working Girl,” and “Silkwood.” And he directed the “Angels in America” mini-series on TV. On Broadway, the hits took in “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot in the Park,” “Luv,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” and “The Real Thing.”

Nichols died in 2014. He was 83.

“The Real Thing” was written by Tom Stoppard, the subject of another stellar biography published this year: “Tom Stoppard: A Life” (Knopf, $37.50) by scholar and critic Hermione Lee, whose earlier subjects have included Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton.

Here’s a heavyweight production, minutely detailed, exhaustive, and accessible. It’s a richly satisfying, authorized and authoritative work, looking into what shaped Stoppard, unleashing one of the great playwrights of our era.

Stoppard, born Tomas Straussler in Czechia, now is 83 years old. He rocketed brilliantly to fame at 29 with “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.’’

And he has written witty, intelligent, complex, philosophical, provocative, and distinctively Stoppardian plays ever since. A sampler: “The Coast of Utopia,” “Arcadia,” “After Magritte,” “Jumpers,” “Travesties,” “Night and Day,” “The Real Inspector Hound.” He has won four Tony Awards for Best Play.

Stoppard also co-wrote the screenplays for “Brazil” and “Shakespeare in Love,” winning an Oscar for “Shakespeare.”

He isn’t mentioned enough when the topic turns to the Nobel Prize for Literature. It’s an honor known for spurning Tolstoy, Proust, Joyce, Kafka, Chekhov, Auden, and Nabokov, among others. But the judges have respected Bob Dylan, Harold Pinter, Samuel Beckett, and Luigi Pirandello.

There’s still time.


ABOUT THE BLOGGER

For 34 years, Peter Gianotti reviewed wines, spirits, restaurants, and books at Newsday. He twice won Press Club of New York awards for food writing. Before he became a food critic, Gianotti was a Washington correspondent, a financial writer, and New York City reporter for the newspaper. His books include “Food Lovers’ Guide to Long Island” and “A Guide to Long Island Wine Country.” Gianotti received his B.A. from Fordham University, where he taught journalism; and his M.S. from Columbia University, where he also was a Bagehot Fellow. Harry, his Creamsicle-hued assistant, prefers the bouquets of riesling and pinot noir.

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