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Wine Talk: Lorraine Bracco

Sopranos actress shooting for star status in the wine world

John Clarke Jr.
Posted: April 28, 2006

Actress Lorraine Bracco, 51, is best known for her role on the HBO hit drama The Sopranos, on which she plays Dr. Jennifer Melfi, the cool, calm and collected psychiatrist to mob boss Tony Soprano. But the actress is taking on a new role as she launches her own line of wines, available in the New York tri-state area this spring and nationally in September. Brooklyn-born Bracco, who recalls large gatherings of her Italian-American family, with big meals, wine and laughs, moved to Paris at 16 to pursue a career as a fashion model and actress. There she was introduced to European culture, fine wine and food. Now she wants to share her love of good wine with others by introducing Bracco Wines, eight different varietals she selected from various Italian regions and producers. Her line will have everything from Pinot Grigio to Primitivo, even though she's an Opus girl at heart.

Wine Spectator: What is your background in wine?
Lorraine Bracco: My background in wine is simple--I lived in France for 10 years. When you live in a country like France and eat and drink in restaurants with friends who know all about wine and food--it was a great lesson in itself. I never even realized what an important part eating and drinking would play in my life. Who knew?

WS: Was it during those years that you became interested in wine?
LB: Absolutely. Put it this way. Twenty-six years ago I named my daughter Margaux, after Château Margaux. I have friends in France still and they pride themselves on drinking and eating.

WS: What are your favorite wines?
LB: When Margaux was born in 1979 I bought a couple of cases of Châteaux Margaux and put them in my cellar. But I went through all of those. You know, I just can't hold onto the stuff. 1979 was a good year. I like reds. I'm definitely a red girl. In Italy, I would have to say I like the Primitivo. For me, it's a wine you drink with almost anything. It's not one of the bigger wines. I love Brunello. But you can't drink that every day or start off lunch with it. I'm a big Opus girl. I love Opus. What else ... Château Margaux, Quintessa, Châteauneuf-du-Pape ... .

WS: How involved are you in the making of Bracco Wines?
LB: I picked out the wines. I went to different vineyards and I went on what I liked, not on production costs or price range. I picked out wines that I loved. Am I involved in the production yet? No. Do I hope to be? Yes.

WS: What's in your wine cellar now?
LB: I have it out in Bridgehampton [on Long Island]. I don't know what's in there. I drink it all, which is really sad. Everybody says, 'Lorraine, you should save this.' Oh, just open it up. My friends love me for that. I tell everybody to just go down and pick out whatever. Then they sheepishly come upstairs with a bottle and ask if they can open it. I say, 'Of course, go ahead and open it!'

WS: Do any other Sopranos cast members share your love for wine?
LB: Michael Imperioli is big into wine, so is Vince Curatola and I think Frank Vincent.

WS: Have you received any advice from other celebrities involved in the wine business?
LB: I know Francis Ford Coppola and I would love to be halfway as successful as Francis. I haven't talked to him yet. But that will be fun.

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