Sommelier, oenophile or occasional sipper: five wine films that will captivate you
Whether you like to linger over a glass of Pinot Grigio at lunch or can’t wait to savor a beloved Merlot after a hard day’s work, wine is a drink that has captured our hearts.
A fundamental part of modern society, wine makes dining more sophisticated, lending an instant touch of elegance to any meal. The beauty of wine is that it comes in so many different forms that it is impossible for one person to be a complete expert. There is always a new wine to discover, whether you are a sommelier, oenophile or even a simple gourmand.
Rarely has alcohol been so important, and proof of this is the number of films that have been made around the theme of wine. Here we take a look at five simply wonderful wine movies that you can enjoy with a glass of your favorite drink.
On the side – 2004
Perhaps this is the wine movie that most people have seen, even those who aren’t heavy wine drinkers. A dramatic comedy adapted from a novel of the same name (by Rex Pickett), the title refers to the best way to preserve wines during storage. The idea of the story is simple, a wine connoisseur and his friend take a road trip through the wine country, discovering each other along the way – in the midst of many nearby disasters.
Well-received by critics, Sideways is a film that audiences love so much that it seems many of them have taken the wine commentary to heart. Pinot Noir is heavily arched while Merlot is maligned in Sideways causing sales of Merlot to drop and Pinot Noir to rise rapidly!
Opportunity – 2020
This sweet film presents the story of Elijah, who is expected to take the reins of the family barbecue business but secretly dreams of a different future. Working part-time at a local winery, he realizes that his passion is for wine, not for pan-fried steaks. He passes the entrance examination to the Master Sommelier program and with the blessing of his mother but the disapproval of his father, Elijah goes to France. Sadly, his mother passes away and Elijah returns for the funeral, struggling to complete the rest of the sommelier program. You’ll have to watch the entire movie to find out what’s going on, but it’s neither a sweet ending nor a bitter taste of failure.
What sets this movie apart from several other wine movies is that you get to have a drink. You might not manage them all as there are no less than 29 wines named in the movie! To get ready to watch Uncorked, head over to America’s 50 Best Wine Sellers page for your pick, or simply browse through this weekly Wegmans ad where you can pick the wines you’ve picked to go with your viewing. With an Il Casato Pinot Grigio Valdadige for $ 9.99 and a selection of Chardonnays, it doesn’t matter if you don’t drink the exact vintage because you’ll have too much fun!
The Secret of Santa Vittoria – 1969
A movie about the Nazis doesn’t normally have a comedic twist, but this clever movie manages to be both inspiring and compelling, without dismissing the gruesome reality of the Führer’s army. In a small town (Santa Vittoria), Bombolini is the local drunkard, but after climbing a flag pole and getting stuck, he’s accidentally named the new mayor after the Nazis think he’s the leader.
Although he initially seems like a terrible choice, he rises to the occasion but hits his stride when he finds out that the Germans are planning to occupy Santa Vittoria and worse yet, have their wine. With a million bottles to hide, it’s a big job, but will Bombolini’s plan work?
You will be my son – 2011
While sweet comedy seems to be a common theme in many wine films, this isn’t always the case. “You Will Be My Son” is a French tragedy telling the story of a winemaker unhappy at the prospect of his son taking control of his vineyard. Disappointed by the lack of talent of his only heir, he spots the qualities he expected in one of his son’s childhood friends.
Inevitably, the winemaker instead invites his son’s friend to be a partner in the vineyard, causing a lot of friction and creating a thriller filled with suspense.
Sour grapes – 2016
The last wine-themed watch on our list is not a conventional film but a documentary. Created by Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell, the documentary follows the story of Rudy Kurniawan, a wealthy Indonesian wine collector. With an obsession with Bordeaux and an ability to sell countless bottles of fake wine, the fraudster has made millions and millions of dollars from the sale of his “vintage” bottles. He was arrested when the FBI raided his home in 2012 and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, the first person to be convicted of the crime.