Behind the Bar Stick People

Film Director Benjamin Dickinson on Why Red Wine Makes People Chatty

Image: Noah Kalina

Benjamin Dickinson was 30 when First Winter debuted in 2012, solidifying his place as a promising young feature film director. This came after shooting a series of music videos for LCD Soundsystem, Q-Tip and Yoko Ono “to pay the rent.” Now 34, Dickinson premiered his second film, Creative Control, at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival to a Special Jury Recognition, and the movie was purchased by Amazon, which has begun releasing it in theaters this spring.

The protagonist he plays in his film, David, drinks single-malt scotch. Dickinson drinks red wine. And the characters in his first film? “There’s no alcohol in First Winter,” says Dickinson. “They’re hippies; it’s all about weed.”

Here’s more from our chat with Dickinson from a hotel room in his hometown of Chicago the morning after Creative Control’s premiere there. He’d definitely enjoyed some red wine the night before.

On Wine Studies

I’m a dilettante. I would have to study to really understand red wine, and I’m lazy. But I know I like it full-bodied, and I’ve been really into stuff from southwestern France recently. When you get a really good glass of red wine, it’s almost like drinking delicious dirt. It’s so rich, and there are often two or three different flavors that happen: The way it smells and then when you first taste it and then the final taste are all different. It’s just complex, and it’s really stimulating.

On Wine Buzzes

Red wine gives you a chatty buzz. It loosens you up a little bit, In vino veritas, as they say. I was in Nicaragua the first week of January, and one night in Grenada, I ate out to dinner with a young woman. We ordered this Argentinian wine, and while my expectations are usually not very high with Argentinian wine, it was great. We had a bunch of fish with it. We thought we were in love. It was a good moment.

Two of Dickinson’s favorite things: Ball jars and red wine.

On Women and Wine

If a woman doesn’t like red wine, that’s not a deal breaker. Nothing’s a deal breaker. Love conquers all—don’t they say that? Who doesn’t like red wine anyway? Whatever. I think I could get over it if she was wonderful enough.

On Not-Wine

Beer is kind of like a sandwich, and wine is like a fine meal. I’ve got a backyard, so when it’s warm outside, I have barbecues out there. That’s definitely a beer situation. I like a crisp German pilsner or a Kölsch. All the really nutty, heavy microbrew things? I don’t get it.

On Glassware

I’m just a run-of-the-mill hipster—I have Ball jars. They’re cheap and sturdy, and they have lids; you can use them for everything. Sometimes I like to make juice at home, and you can put a lid on the jar and take the juice with you.

On Afternoon (Wine) Delights

The first weekend I’m back in New York, I’ll go to Roman’s for lunch. It’s my favorite time because it’s pretty empty, and usually my friend Anna is bartending, and I’ll have a glass of wine depending on how the week went. Anna’s become my friend from my sitting at the bar so often. We usually talk about literature together.

On Being a Regular

Roman’s is really special. I haven’t spent enough in other cities to become a regular elsewhere. To really become a regular in that way, it takes years. It’s always a little shocking when I do my taxes. I think Roman’s is in the top 10 of my expenses.