Log In / Join Now

The "Rider" Insider: What About the Wine?

Posted: Oct 27, 2006 5:36pm ET

My bandmates and I have just started our current American tour, our first in nearly a year, and we’re all just getting used to the whole rigmarole again: sleeping in tiny, dark bunks while careening down the highway; eating meals backstage with our palates and digestive systems at the mercy of often uncaring caterers; figuring out where to hang our wet show clothes, and trying to find a flat surface on which to balance our laptops for music, e-mails and blogging. It’s a list of minute discomforts that often add up over the course of a day.

On top of it all comes the rider. You’ve probably all heard of the “rider,” the section of an artist’s contract that deals with food-and-beverage requirements backstage. Usually this includes mundane items like clean towels, ice or bottles of water, plus some of the comforts that a musician on the road might want so as to make the separation from home and family a little easier, like a favorite tea or fresh flowers.

Occasionally, though, we crave some pampering. Single-malt Scotch? Sure. Would you like all of the brown M&Ms removed from your bowl of candy, à la Van Halen? No problem, because frankly, it all comes out of your paycheck at the end of the night.

But what of wine? I never know what to ask for when it comes to my favorite beverage. Unlike at a restaurant, there’s no one to present me with a wine list, and on a show day, I don’t have time go wandering the aisles of a local wine shop (which has, for better or worse, taken over from my teenage obsession with record shopping as my favorite time-wasting activity). So, if we want to have a bottle or two of wine waiting for the band in the dressing room after a show, I have to give the promoter some idea of what I’d like to drink.

Sounds easy enough, but whoever will be shopping for the wine will also be shopping for soap, towels, ice, etc., and more often than not, it will be at a Costco or its equivalent. Although Costco often has some great wines, they are often in short supply, and, as with all vintage wine, once it’s gone, it’s gone.

In essence, what I need to do is describe to a complete stranger what kind of wine I like without them having the opportunity to taste it, or for them to purchase it from a knowledgeable salesperson. It would be nice to suggest regions, but how specific can you be without writing War and Peace? If I said I liked Pinot Noirs or Syrahs from California’s Central Coast, but in the shop the promoter’s runner is confronted with a selection of wines from Santa Maria Valley and Santa Rita Hills, but nothing that says Central Coast, then I’ve been too general. If I say I like the dry Rieslings of Zind-Humbrecht and the shop they visit only sells the perfectly delicious wines of Weinbach, then I’ve been too specific.

And, of course, as we all know, price range doesn’t always help either, as directions like “wines in the $40-$60 range” can be just as misleading as directions like “wines in the $10-$15 range.” All price brackets have great values, but not all wines in one price bracket are great values!

The best solution I’ve found is to say, “Surprise us! One bottle of red wine and one bottle of white wine, please. We like to try new things and are knowledgeable about wine. Ask a salesperson for suggestions.”

Oh, and I bring a few bottles from home as backups. And the trips around the wine shop aisles? Isn’t that why they invented days off?

Sao Anash
Santa Barbara —  October 27, 2006 10:34pm ET
Oh the wines I wouldn't buy if I had a million dollars.
Justin Mcauliffe
Vancouver, Canada —  October 28, 2006 1:45am ET
Hey Steven,I'm a sommelier from downtown Toronto. You can safely leave in my hands the wines to choose for your shows. Give me a buzz.mcauliffe.justin@gmail.com
Richard Steinberg
Boca Raton , FL —  October 28, 2006 3:26pm ET
Steven-Here is a deal for you. Arrange for a few tix and back stage and I will bring the wine from our cellar when you come to South Florida. Offline, you can tell me what you like to drink. We must have something in our 1500 bottle cellar!
R M Kriete
October 28, 2006 5:20pm ET
Steven, My wife works as a wine rep and we have a couple of bottles (Pinot and Sauv Blanc) from a Sonoma Coast producer that are killer. How can we get them to you at the Orlando show?
Steven Sherman
san francisco —  October 29, 2006 1:01am ET
StevenLove that you love the wines of Alsace and especially Weinbach. Next time you are in SF, stop by my shop for some time killing and a glass of some kick ass wine.StevenWilliam Cross Wine Merchants 2253 Polk St. SF
Brian Greenglass
Toronto, Canada —  October 29, 2006 9:13am ET
What ever happened to "Steven's Page"?
Marc Goodman
Milwaukee,WI —  October 29, 2006 11:39am ET
Steven, I am a wine buyer for one of the botique grocers here in Milwaukee. Next time your in town drop me an email and I would be happy to pick out some wines for you. michaelm_sendiksmarket@yahoo.com
John Poggemeyer
Ohio —  October 29, 2006 2:15pm ET
Be careful what you ask for here, because fans will start throwing bottles of Zind-Humbrecht at you and your buddies instead of green dresses and Kraft Macaroni!!!
Steven Page
October 29, 2006 4:10pm ET
Thanks for the great comments, everyone! I'll admit that it's a high class problem I'm whining about, so I thank you for your suggestions. And, though I wasn't trolling for handouts, I may have to take you all up on your offers, although John, may I suggest you carefully decant the Zind-Humbrecht into a wineskin before lobbing it up onstage!!Here's my big question: What are your favourite high-quality wines that are widely available? I've always appreciated Wine Spectator's Top 100 list as they take availability into account, and for value-priced wines that always means a lot to me, as I travel a lot, and it would be nice to have a list of stand-bys to give the people who staock our dressing room.
Richard Sibly
Seattle, WA —  October 29, 2006 8:25pm ET
Hey, Steven!!! I can't wait to see you when come up to the Pacific Northwest for the KMTT Winter Warmth concert. A couple weeks ago, I bumped into John Medeski (Medeski, Martin, and Wood) at a local wine shop just hours before his show. He ended up letting me backstage and then on his tour bus to try some awesome wines. He was a great guy. So here is an offer for you! If you want to take a pick from some Pinot Noir from Merry Edwards, Kosta Browne, MacPhail, Roar, or AP Vin - I'd be more than happy to bring a bottle or two to the show. Just say the word and have a great tour. sibs712@hotmail.com
Abi Thompson
Washington, Dc —  October 29, 2006 9:47pm ET
Wine Generation (a wine community for the 21-35 demograph) would love to provide the wine for your next DC show! Abigail@winegeneration.com
Anthony Clapcich
October 29, 2006 9:59pm ET
Steven-- Why not just buy the wine yourself at the beginning of the tour and have it packed away with your gear? Buy a few cases of everyday red, a few everyday whites, and then have 2 cases of "man, I really rocked the house tonight" wine for quiet celebration time. No more "mystery wines" at "mystery prices"...and it allows you to exert a little control over the generalized entropy swirling around your tour!
Lucie Sweda
October 30, 2006 12:14pm ET
Man, It is hard being a Pop star.
Ken Koonce
Dallas, Texas —  October 30, 2006 2:38pm ET
High quality wines available just about anywhere ... Greg Norman, Marques de Caceres, just about any NZ Sauvignon Blanc, come to mind, and all generally less than $15 a bottle.
Steven Page
October 30, 2006 2:53pm ET
Anthony - your suggestion is by far the most logical, and, usually I do something of the sort, but with border-crossings (I live in Canada), it gets trickier. I do have a locker at a wine storage facility in California, which I tap into when I'm vacationing or working in the US. But that said, I'd be pretty happy to have a few cases of Vitiano for an everyday dinnertime or post-show quaff, and then some special bottles for the really great shows. Nice idea, thanks.
Steven Page
October 30, 2006 2:55pm ET
Lucie - you can say that again! But not quite as tough or rewarding as being a dad to three little boys!
John Fanaris
Venice, CA —  October 30, 2006 4:42pm ET
how about giving your guys a little more information, but still leave plenty of opportunities to try something new and undiscovered? I think giving an AVA might do the trick. right now I'm loving Pinot's from the Sonoma Coast, Russian River and Santa Rita Hills.. Rutherford cabs.. Carneros Chardonnay.. or even a little bit more specific like Chateauneuf Du Pape or anything from Margaux.. try to whittle down your favorites based on this kind of categorization and let them run with it.
Milwaukee WI —  October 30, 2006 7:37pm ET
Same offer in Milwaukee, WI. I run a large wine program in a Brazilian fine dining restaurant that just happens to be next to the Pabst theatre.Colin.Groom@gmail.com
Steven Sherman
san francisco —  October 31, 2006 6:16pm ET
StevenSome great wines with good availability and price that are under $15 are Honig SB, Alamos Chardonnay, Zerbina "Ceregio" Sangiovese, Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz, Cusamano Syrah and CU Farleigh Zinfandel
Ron Innes
November 1, 2006 10:24am ET
Steven,I just came in from the sandbox and am pleased to see your interest in Alsace(culinary mecca of the Universe, sorry Lyon). ZH, great stuff, Weinbach,also great stuff. I guess that means your palate is up to the fabulous wines of MARCEL DEISS!!! Biodynamically grown, an iconic winemaker with just the right amount of surliness thrown in. These are the benchmark of what the vineyards can do in Alsace. Cheers!
Steven Petersen
Seattle, WA —  November 1, 2006 5:26pm ET
Hey Steven... We've a few good wines in Seattle and the NW, You may have even heard of a few 100 pointers! As a Red Mountain vineyard owner, I've a constantly changing list of favourites. If you have time; Drop me a line for a cellar visit at a few places, or just to drop something off for you and the guys. Looking forward to seeing you at the Winter Warmth concert from KMTT. stevenp@LaCoye.com
Tim Sylvester
Santa Monica, CA —  November 3, 2006 4:07pm ET
Steve--You and the band really only drink two bottles of wine before/after the show? Don't you and your wife drink almost that much at home after getting worked over all day by your boys?? Seriously, you can always tell your buyer that he/she should buy any wine from Joseph Phelps, can't go wrong with its portfolio.Cheers, Tim
Scott Wilson
Edmonton, Canada —  November 3, 2006 9:38pm ET
Hi Steven, Same offer for your stop thru Edmonton. I work in Edmonton's largest wine store, so I'm sure we can set you up. scottwilson25@juno.comCheers!
Gregg Giordano
November 5, 2006 12:49am ET
Steven - I'll see your three little boys and up you two boys and two girls!! Yet another fabulous reason to enjoy an excellent glass of wine on occasion! Appreciated the comments on knowing how to secure a solid selection without being too broad or too specific - we are currently working on a project that may help with that - will keep you up to date! The next thing you may have to tackle is making sure your fans have access to a nice wine selection - the Patriot Center's beer selection left alot to be desired :) haha - the show was fabulous by the way. And Pink is definitely your color! All the best - Niki (Gregg's humble co-member)
Katrine Pollari
New York, New York —  November 7, 2006 9:16am ET
Hey Steven, If your shopper asks for selections from the importers Kermit Lynch or Thierry Thiese, you'll surely"Shirley" get something worth quaffing!
Anthony Dixon
Atlanta, GA —  November 7, 2006 10:40am ET
Hey Steven. I am a wine retailer in Atlanta. Please let me know if I may be of any assistance in wine selections for you and the guys when you're in town this week for your show on the ninth. Feel free to call me at 404-320-1903 or email me at tocogiant@fdn.com.
Carlo A Buffone
Ottawa, Canada —  November 7, 2006 1:39pm ET
Steven, I'm a wine agent that reps Italian wines not available at the LCBO. I have Feb 21st marked on my Calender for your Ottawa visit. Contact me through info@mamasboywines.com. I'm happy to provide you with some wines that "ROCK". Cheers, Carlo.
Lisa Ruyter
Vienna Austria —  November 7, 2006 5:23pm ET
Wenn Sie nach Wien kommen, versuche ich, Ihnen zu helfen, einen netten Kabeljau in der Schinkensuppe zu finden. ich bin sicher, da¿Sie kein Problem einen netten Wein finden haben. And i dont even really know German...
Rob Lentini
Alexandria, Virginia —  November 9, 2006 9:18am ET
The fact that I understood you Lisa... I'm guessing that means my German is bad, too. It looks to me that the hard part about being a rockstar isn't getting wine... it's dealing with all the star-struck people (see above) who want to fly in your orbit.
Steven Petersen
Seattle, WA —  November 9, 2006 10:51am ET
How cynical Rob! I share wine with people that aren't famous too...That is what it is for.
Steven Page
November 9, 2006 2:34pm ET
Thanks for all of your suggestions (and offers to share wine! I agree Steven, that's the best thing about wine - sharing it with people who love it, and turning new people on to it!).As an update, backstage wine has been hit-or-miss, some good (tonight I spy a Guigal Brune et Blonde Cote-Rotie), some less inspired (last night, um, K-J Merlot...). In fact, when Wine Spectator editor Tom Matthews came out to our Radio City Music Hall Show the other night, he peered into my glass, only to find a dram of Macallan 12 (sometimes beer and whisky end up the better alternatives)!I have a day off in Austin, TX tomorrow - anyone with recommendations for wine shops or restaurants? I may take a day trip out to Lockhart for some BBQ...
Lisa Ruyter
Vienna Austria —  November 9, 2006 6:01pm ET
TX BBQ sounds so good to me right now. Mmm. I¿m so far away from all the fun¿ I really appreciate the problems of finding quality in the random situations that must come with a tour like that. Living in Europe and traveling often for work, I have had some incredible food and wine experiences, but also have gone without anything rather than ingesting what was on offer. I was recently back in the USA and found myself in some questionable places and realized that without the language barrier, I had much better skilz finding something that I would happily ingest, practically anywhere. Finally an inspirational reason to learn this horrible german language¿I was very interested in the question about widely available high quality wines and was looking forward to the suggestions ¿ I am rather new to wine, and I have been trying things after reading about them here (WS top 100 list is a great place to start)¿ problem is, most of the time I cant find it when I read it, and I have no memory for names without an experience attached so in the end it is like I never read about it either. So far I have kind of taken a local approach with what is available here but then when I travel I am absolutely lost again, and sometimes you just don¿t want to take so many chances.
Kirk R. Grant
Ellsworth, ME —  November 9, 2006 10:46pm ET
Steven, It looks to me that only a few people have really offered you what you asked for...recommendations. So here are a few that are worth hunting for, and some others that are worth going out of the way for. When you are in the Pacific Northwest look forPinot Noirs1. Bergstrom ($40-$75)2. Patricia Green ($30-$70)3. Penner Ash ($45)4. Domain Serene Cote Sud/Chardonay ($40)In Cali look for these fun little gems1. "The Prisoner" ($35-Zin, cab, Sirah blend)2. Copain Sirah & Pinot ($40-$60)Spanish gems1. Alanso Del Yero 03' ($30)2. El Bosque 02' ($120) RiojaWhen you are around AZ look up Maynard Keenan's winery. I've had his first two wines the Primer Paso(Sirah$45) & the Naga(sangiovese/cab $65)...they are knock you on your ass wines. Absolutely amazing! Yet they can only be bought at Page Spring Cellars in Cornville, AZ. He has a Cab/Sirah blend that is currently available around $90. From what I tasted of the first two these are worth a phone call to see if you can mannage to get your hands on it. Good luck & enjoy.
Steven Petersen
Seattle, WA —  November 11, 2006 5:42pm ET
I'll jump in with a few more NW recommendations: Try a Cayuse Syrah if you can find it; Should run around $85. A few restaurants will carry this very highly regarded, but small producer. Unfortunately production is so small it never shows up in stores. Still, it's definitely worth watching for. Other rising stars are Betz, and Buty. The well known names that will rarely steer you wrong are Leonetti, Woodard Canyon, Andrew Will, Quilceda Creek. With prices as they are getting to be from France. Italy, (and even Calif.) You're sure to find excellent values.
Martha Wagner
Portland, OR —  November 13, 2006 4:39pm ET
August West pinot noir from CA, if only because the name means the winemaker is a Dead fan. And as an Oregon winery Elk crusader...definitely agree that pinots from around here are quaffable with the tour's m&m's, pizzas (mushroom), and occasional Magret & confit of duck with cheddar polenta, pinot noir-poached pear and braised greens sort of eats.
Brian J Lynch
November 14, 2006 9:07am ET
You could create/print out a simple form with a picture of the band and a menu list below it that says:BNL is in town on ___________ for our 2006 tour and we'd like __ bottles of the best wine you'd recommend from your shop (under $___) from the following region(s):Then have a generic list of your favorite regions on the form and circle what you want that night. Have someone in the band sign it so the shopkeeper can keep it and will be stoked to find something good, and then send the courier on his/her way to find you some treasure. Most cities have a short list of great wine shops, so send him/her someplace good.If you want, put on the form "If you provide the wine we like best from this tour, we'll visit you're shop next time we're on tour here ..."That should produce some sleepers and some top notch stuff from the owners' private stashes. Keeping it below a price level will make it a more interesting search. Might as well make life on the road fun!

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.
Most Recent Posts
Mar 28, 2007
On the Way Home

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.