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The Toronto Star Paired Wines With Movies And It Did Not End Well

Who thought this was a good idea?

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A bizarre newspaper feature about pairing wines with movies suggested an "understated rosé" could "offset the searing cinematic discomfort" of watching 12 Years A Slave.

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The Toronto Star's Friday wine feature celebrated films that previously showed at the Toronto International Film Festival, which runs until Sept. 17.

The piece featured "five TIFF favourites to enjoy from the comfort of your own home — all with a perfectly paired bottle."

The entry for 12 Years A Slave suggested a 2016 Ogier Ventoux Rosé.

Toronto Star / Via

"Of course the cruelty, violence and accuracy of the events pictured makes it a difficult film to watch, but at the same time important," wine writer Carolyn Evans Hammond wrote.

"So offset the searing cinematic discomfort with this smooth, dry, understated rosé."

People were not impressed.

Are you f*cking kidding, @TorontoStar? Slavery sucks- Films about slavery are hard to watch! Pairs well with a dry…


"Nothing cuts the horrors of slavery quite like a smooth, crisp wine that a lot of white people enjoy."

@badandbitchy @TorontoStar nothing cuts the horrors of slavery quite like a smooth, crisp wine that a lot of white people enjoy.

12 Years A Slave wasn't the only questionable movie pairing. There was also Still Alice, the sombre 2014 film about a woman's early-onset Alzheimer's, which is apparently best paired with an "intense but elegant" red.

The worst possible #TIFF17 tie-in, @torontostar. What the actual hell is this.

Intense but elegant, "much like Julianne Moore's portrayal of Alice." 😐

The Columbia Journalism Review spoke with Evans Hammond about her article, and the writer seemed not to see the big deal.

“What was I going to do otherwise? Omit that film, I think that’s less scrupulous," she said. "It’s a very important film to watch. I could have said a shot of whiskey, but I’m a wine writer.”

In a follow-up interview with CJR, however, she said she felt "gutted" by outraged reactions to her wine-movie pairings.

"Twitter has obviously revealed I have hurt people, which makes me sad," she said.

The Star's public editor responded to the fiasco, saying that "all involved agree this was in bad taste."

@mmmbarclay @HeatherMallick @TorontoStar All involved agree this was in bad taste- newsroom taking steps now to remedy.

The feature was updated on the Star's website and no longer includes the entries for 12 Years A Slave and Still Alice.

"Parts of this column have been edited out because they did not meet the Star’s standards on taste," reads an editor's note included at the bottom of the article. "The Star regrets the error."


Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at

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