Being in a hard rock band ain’t easy. When you’re not on the road, you’re in the studio, and either way, there’s an endless string of after-parties. It can wear on even the most veteran rock n’ roller—which is why many rock stars eventually ease up on the hard-partying lifestyle. But while Sammy Hagar may never stop swilling tequila, these five heavy metal bands have discovered the pleasures of a more refined beverage: Wine. In fact, they even make their own varietals.
We ran a taste-test to see whose glass kicks the most ass, enlisting the help of an authority on both head-banging and beverages to judge the selections: Melody Henry (pictured above), the owner/operator of Brooklyn heavy metal bar the Lucky 13 Saloon.
#1. Best in Show!
Band(s): Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer
Band’s metal masterpiece:Ænima
Best alcohol-related song lyrics: “Why can’t we drink forever?” (Ironically, from the song “Sober”)
Did you know? Tool’s Maynard James Keenan currently owns Merkin Vineyards and the associated winery, Caduceus Cellars.
Melody says: Very nice, very smooth, surprisingly light for a red that’s 14% alcohol. Fruity, too.
Band’s metal masterpiece: There are many, but we’ll go with Orgasmatron
Band’s alcohol-related song lyrics: “Another town, left behind, another drink, completely blind” (from “We Are The Road Crew”)
Did you know? The band name is another term for “speed freak.”
Melody says: You know, when I was younger, I met Lemmy and I told him to get those Cocoa Puffs removed from his face. It’s bolder than the Caduceus, but still smooth. This wine is pretty for having come from an ugly man. Fruity, I like it. No aftertaste at all. This one comes in second.
Wine:Reign in Blood Red
Band’s metal masterpiece: Reign in Blood
Best alcohol-related song lyrics: The only thing Slayer sings about drinking is—you guessed it—blood.
Did you know? Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo teamed up with members of Faith No More and The Melvins to form avant-garde metal band Fantomas. They sound like your brain exploding.
Melody says: This is a pretty typical Cabernet. It would be a good Cabernet at a low price point, like $15 a bottle. At $30, not so much. (Note: This wine is currently unavailable for purchase in the United States.)
Wine:Back in Black Shiraz
Band’s metal masterpiece:Back in Black
Best alcohol-related song lyrics: “Have a Drink on Me” (from the eponymous song)
Did you know? Original lead singer Bon Scott’s 1980 death certificate states his cause of death as “acute alcohol poisoning and death by midsadventure.”
Melody says: There’s an aftertaste. Not as good as I’d hoped. Not so smooth, and light for a Shiraz.
Wine:Geoff Tate’s Insania (wine hybrid containing Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc)
Band’s metal masterpiece:Operation: Mindcrime
Best alcohol-related song lyrics: “Traveled through the jungles of the Yucatan and drank the potion from the magic man” (from the song “Tribe”)
Did you know? In September, the band officially split into two Queensryches, with lead singer Geoff Tate adding veteran metal bassist Rudy Sarzo and Ratt drummer Bobby Blotzer to his version.
Melody says: I don’t like it. It’s nearly flavorless. A little bitter, but that’s all the flavor I’m getting. A little harsh. Maybe you shouldn’t mix all these wines together—it’s like a Long Island Ice Tea of wine. I prefer the AC/DC to this, which is sad. Unpleasant notes! Actually, I wouldn’t give this to a dog. Operation: Winecrime!