Wine has exploded and pop culture has taken notice. The last fifteen or so years have yielded some truly wonderful wine-themed motion pictures, ones that not only educate, but entertain and fully captivate (in addition to making you thirsty, of course).
It’s probably because wine is so narrative-based and just plain dynamic. Because it involves everything from farming to fraud and relies on good stories to be successful, wine is an ideal muse for filmmakers. Here are a few flicks worth uncorking.
(Need a bottle to pop while you’re watching? Why not a nice rosé?)
This fantastic 2004 film immortalized Paul Giamatti as the ultimate DIY wine critic. It stunted the growth of American Merlot and boosted Pinot Noir. It taught us how to commit tomfoolery in the vineyard and create a scene in the tasting room. And it reminded us that wine is fun, in addition to being something we can obsess over. The movie is a dark comedy at heart, making it all the more human and compelling. If you need some inspiration for a reflective weekend in wine country, Sideways has you covered.
SOMM portrays the neurotic side of the wine industry. The cast of the documentary is comprised of wine professionals in the hunt for the holy grail of the trade: Master Sommelier certification. Largely considered one of the hardest tests to pass on the planet, the process is rigorous, sleepless, and downright fascinating. Those of you with halfway decent palates will be moved to at least host the occasional tasting event or maybe even switch careers altogether. And if you like the original, the sequels are worth a viewing.
Sour Grapes (2016)
This 2016 film shadows Rudy Kurniawan as he duped winos out of millions of dollars. His wine fraud campaign involved fake bottles from world famous houses, made all the more intriguing by Kurniawan’s smooth-talking, insider-icon ways. More than anything, this movie shows the absurd side of wine and how wildly subjective it can be. So much so that it can land prominent industry figures in jail.
A Year in Champagne (2014)
Incredibly French and steeped in wine romance, this movie tracks the allure and complexity of Champagne, the original sparkling wine. It’s a nice primer on how the stuff is made and the inherent drama of growing high-stakes fruit amid whatever Mother Nature feels like throwing at you. And it will compel you to start sabering sparkling more often.
Bottle Shock (2008)
Bottle Shock is a funny film which revolves around the famous “Judgment of Paris” wine competition of 1976. The contest is largely credited for kickstarting the American wine machine as it involved domestic wines going toe-to-toe with some of the best Old World labels out there. Plus, it features Bill Pullman and the late and great Alan Rickman and focuses on the cozy, somewhat nostalgic version of the Napa Valley, circa the 1970s.
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