Many celebrities have tried their hand at winemaking. John Legend is committed to making sure his collection of varietals gets top billing.
For a while, John Legend was just John Legend. You know, a University of Pennsylvania-educated crooner with dulcet-toned pipes. His songs, like 2013’s “All of Me” or 2016’s “Love Me Now,” were perfect for a teary-eyed subway ride home from a tough day at work; for the bubble bath that took place as soon as you walked in the door; and for any potential roll in the hay that might—fingers crossed—happen after.
But Legend isn’t just that anymore. He’s also a sometime actor; a successful film and television producer with his company, Get Lifted; a coach on The Voice; a voice on Google Assistant; and Mr. Chrissy Teigen, who is a hilarious model, an impromptu chef and a multihyphenate in her own right. Together, they have two children: Luna and Miles. Legend is even an EGOT (that’s Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner).
But that’s not enough for him. Like Drew Barrymore, Brad Pitt, Dwyane Wade and Jon Bon Jovi, Legend launched his own wine company, LVE, featuring a chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, Napa Valley, sparkling brut blanc de blancs, red blend and Côtes de Provence rosé, as well as a French sparkling rosé, which launched this summer.
So, what made you want to get into the wine business? I’ve loved wine for most of my adult life. It’s accompanied lots of travel, romance and great meals—a lot of good times. I also thought it went well with my music. A lot of my fans tell me they like to drink a glass of wine when they listen to my records. So, [thinking of] my personality, my music and my love of wine, I started looking into a collaboration with a vineyard. I connected with Jean-Charles Boisset at Raymond Vineyards on so many levels—musically and personality-wise as well. We thought it would be cool to come up with something together. It’s really important to find collaborators. If you don’t have a lot of credibility, it’s great to partner with someone who does. It’s a lot of fun integrating the wines into our entertaining, dining experiences and concerts.
How difficult is it to develop new wines? It’s a process to get the blends exactly the way we want them. There’s a lot to it, but luckily I’ve been working with a partner who has been doing it for years. I feel like I’m cheating a bit.
Is it harder to develop a new wine or write a new song? I make new songs all the time. I can create a new song in a few hours. That doesn’t mean it’s going to come out on a record that way. There’s a process of going back and forth with a blend until you get it right. There are arrangements and mixes. If the arrangement isn’t right, a song won’t sound like it’s supposed to sound. Finding that perfection or beauty is kind of a similar process to making wine.
Why do people like buying wine from celebrities? Part of it is experiential and who the person is. I think people connect my music with romance and serenity, and soulfulness and a certain vibe. Wine goes really well with that perception of me. I always thought it made sense, and then we also made the connection more explicit by doing wine tastings at my shows.
Tell me about your new sparkling rosé. A lot of it’s based on what we like to drink and what we like to entertain our friends and family with. In some ways, it’s kind of selfish, but it’s also understanding what the market wants and what we like to drink.
What kinds of things does it pair with? We love the flat rosé with barbecue chicken, fried chicken and coleslaw. We’re still figuring out the sparkling rosé. I’ve served it for brunch with French toast and that was good.
Do you drink your wine every day? Not every day. When I’m on tour, I don’t drink much at all. When we do a wine tasting VIP experience, I only taste. I like to stay really hydrated, and I need to keep my voice as pristine as possible and not affect the wear and tear. But I usually have at least a glass of red with dinner when I’m at home.
What’s cooking like with your wife? We don’t really cook together. I cook for her; she cooks for me. She’s a bit more creative in the kitchen. I like to follow recipes, and I’m very good at executing them. I’ll look them up online or literally in her book. I’m not really creative in the kitchen, but I love to cook.
What do you like that Chrissy makes, and what does she like that you make? I love the French onion soup in her new book. It’s incredible. She also does a really good braised short rib. I like to make macaroni and cheese. She loves my mac and cheese—the garlic is really important. I usually drink rosé with that.
What’s the most expensive bottle of wine you’ve ever bought? I don’t even want to say the price! We were at a Michelin-starred restaurant in the south of France and the sommelier recommended a wine, but he didn’t tell us how much it was. At a certain point, you should give someone a warning when it’s in the high thousands, right? When the check came, I said, “Baby, this wine is way more than you’d expect.” But after you drink it, it’s too late. They got us. It was good—but it would have been good at a much cheaper price.
Are summers downtime for you? I’m always busy, but we try to go on vacation. Last year, we went to Bali for
3 ½ weeks. This summer, we’ll spend two or three weeks in Europe. Singers have to sing year-round—there are festivals, weddings, all kinds of things. I’m also working on some new music I’m excited about.
Where’s your favorite place to drink rosé in the Hamptons? Usually in someone’s backyard. We have some good friends with nice houses, and you don’t really need to go out. I miss New York and the Hamptons. I lived in New York for 15 years. We have more friends on the East Coast than we do on the West Coast. But, we’re going to be in the Hamptons July 13 for an event with Hamptons magazine. The Hamptons and rosé are the perfect combination.
Photographed by Doug Inglish/Trunk Archive; Styled by William Graper
August 21, 2019