Red Fang is not exactly known for liking the finer things.
The Fang are Portland's piss-swilling stoner-metal gods—power-chord peddlers whose first music video in 2009 showed them beating up LARPers in the park while wearing armor made of Tecate cans. In another, they escape in a PBR truck from a horde of beer-chugging zombies. When PBR needed a soundtrack for their official pinball machine, Red Fang was the band they asked.
But like Slayer before them—whose Reign in Blood wine is apparently really big in South America—Red Fang is getting in on the grape game.
Next month, Portland urban winery Teutonic will release 65 cases of Red Fang Red ($25), a fruitily acidic blend of pinot, skin-contact gewürztraminer and tannat, a big-bodied grape winery co-owner Olga Tuttle declared the most metal of grapes. On the bottle's label, the band's trademark skull is stained red with pinot, with text declaring the wine "perfect for a hot bath or a night of headbanging."
It turns out the drummer, John Sherman, is the wine hound in the band; guitarist/singer Bryan Giles still drinks PBR.
"I think what people think of the band comes from the videos," says Sherman. "But you know, they're not documentaries. They're extreme exaggerations of whatever characters we were at the time. And at the time that first video came out in 2009, we were drinking a lot of PBR. If people want to hate us because we're not those guys anymore, well…"
"John had been coming to our winery tasting our wines," says Teutonic's Barnaby Tuttle. "One of their videos, there's actually a scene where John is drinking wine, a scene where they're doing soundcheck—he's over at a table swirling pinot and being a douche."
"Wine is the best of all three things I like," says Sherman. "Gambling, because you have to decide whether to sit on the bottle and you might open it at the wrong time. I like to get buzzed, and I like food. All of those, I guess, are a buzz."
Sherman had first read a magazine piece about Teutonic, which makes distinctive Alpine-style wines. "It seemed like they were really making wines a different way from everybody else," he says. "When I walked into their tasting room the first time they were blasting Saxon, Tad and the James Gang. I thought, not only are they making excellent wine, they're really cool."
After Sherman kept coming into the winery, eventually the Tuttles figured out what he did for a living and asked him whether he wanted to make a wine with them. But according to Sherman, after the band filed down to the winery to taste different wine barrels, they unanimously decided to let Barnaby and Olga do whatever they wanted.
The band did, however, bottle the wine that bears their name. Giles filled the bottles, and Sherman put the cork in.
The result is a strangely layered wine: Even with the low bass notes of tannat, the minimalist pinot that forms the wine's backbone is almost German in its austerity, wild-fermented in neutral oak and made acidic and bright with the lightness of the orange-wine gewurz. Different sips bring out different notes, whether deep and almost plummy or a bit tart.
This August, Red Fang traveled to the Wilsonville vineyard Teutonic terraformed from an old gravel pit, to help with the winery's grape harvest. Wyatt Wahlstrom, a 16-year-old aspiring drummer who'd been helping the Tuttles harvest grapes since he was seven, apparently didn't know Red Fang was arriving.
"That was the high point of the day—that kid," Barnaby Tuttle says. "He's a pretty stoked 16-year-old already. The double take and the look on his face was priceless. He plays the drums, he plays their songs. That's his favorite band in the world. He'd invited his friends to come pick and they said it didn't sound like fun. They were pretty bummed when they found out who showed up."
GO: Red Fang's bottle release party will be January 13 at Teutonic Wine Company, 3303 SE 20th Ave., teutonicwines.com. 6 pm. $25 includes a glass of the wine, a metal-horns wine glass, a house-made corn dog with house-made sausage a bag of Fritos. Red Fang will be in attendance.