Remembering Ray Liotta

by Randy Fuller May 29, 2022

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌ ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌ This week, we tip our hats to the recently passed actor Ray Liotta with wine pairings for three of his films.

In 1990’s Goodfellas, Liotta turned in a career performance as mobster-turned-witness Henry Hill. From a fresh-faced recruit to a coke-crazed veteran of the neighborhood wars, we follow him through crime, punishment and humiliation as he careens through his criminal life. He lived his life with every comfort he could steal. In the end, he was just a schnook who couldn’t even get a decent marinara sauce.

Martin Scorsese directed the film to six Oscar nominations, but the Academy gave the supporting actor nod to Joe Pesci, which he won. Liotta’s narration, for me, makes the movie. His description of how to make a sauce while watching federal helicopters hover above him defines the crazy cool feeling of living on the edge with no safe place to fall.

There’s a liquor store in Brooklyn called Goodfellas, where presumably anything you purchase would pair well with the movie. It might even help them pay their weekly tribute to whoever lets them stay open. But for a classic movie serving up heaping helpings of pasta and sauce, make it a Chianti Classico, straight from the heart of Tuscany.

Something Wild came from 1986, a few years prior to Liotta’s big role as a gangster. He’s a tough guy in this one, too, an angry husband with parole problems who is not amused by his wife taking up with a banker. It’s a freewheeling comedy, the one that brought Liotta to Scorsese’s attention. “Note to self: hire this guy for that wise guy movie.

South Australia’s Wild and Wilder Wines has a blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro which is named The Unforgettable, a good enough nickname for Something Wild as well as for Liotta.

1997’s Cop Land has Liotta on the other side of the badge, although as a dirty officer. The incredibly convoluted story ends up, as in Goodfellas, with his character copping a plea to keep his ass out of a crack.

Liotta lends support to the lead actors, Sylvester Stallone and Harvey Keitel, and gets to work again with Goodfellas cohort Robert De Niro. For a guy who worked as much as Liotta did – and who was as memorable in his roles – it’s sad that he toiled for more than thirty years after Goodfellas in films that were nowhere near that mountaintop.

For Cop Land, let’s look to a Paso Robles winery that was co-founded by a retired police officer – Thin Blue Wine Cellars. Even if he tries to get dirty, his ex-Marine wife is there to keep him on the straight and narrow.

Randy Fuller

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