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Wine and Movies

Versatile. Splendid. Classy. Comical. Ghastly. Alluring. Wines play a significant role in movies. They are cast with either good-guy or bad-guy roles. Take for instance movies like James Bond, Casablanca, the Silence of the Lambs and Interview with the Vampire. Wines exacerbate the polarity in the characters and mood. Champagnes and sparkling whites are for the dazing protagonist, while deep reds are for the villains.

In the classic movie Casablanca (1942), Humphrey Borgart and Ingrid Bergman enjoyed a bottle of champagne to dispel their thoughts of the gruesome war. Wines have been constantly discussed and featured in James Bond movies. The debonair spy is also one of the few heroes to make wine connoisseurship something thoroughly masculine. Mr. Bond himself is partial to a Bollinger Grande Année.

Maybe because of its resemblance to blood, full-bodied reds are often used in horror movies. One of the most unforgettable scenes in the Interview with the Vampire, Tom Cruise wrings the blood of a rat into a wine glass to offer to Brad Pitt. I also experienced long sleepless nights with the Silence of the Lambs (1991). Consequently, many wine lovers avoided Chianti for some time after seeing Hannibal Lecter pairing the Tuscani wine with human liver.

In 2004, a film was made entirely for wine. Sideways features a comedic exploration of two friends to the pitfalls of love, dreams and wine. It starts off when Miles (Paul Giamatti), a wine-lover and frustrated novelist, decides to take his old college buddy Jack ( Thomas Haden Church) into a trip to the vineyards of Santa Barbara wine country a few day’s before Jack’s wedding. The plot thickens as Jack falls in love with the local wine pourer, thus changing his mind about his nuptials. Miles, on the other hand, tries to make his friend reconsider the whole matter but then falls to the clutches of an attractive wine-savvy waitress.

The character of the two friends is also portrayed in the type of wine they like. Miles adores Pinot Noir while Jack wants Merlot. Pinor Noir is complex and remarkably thrilling. Merlot, on the other hand, is soft, fleshy and exciting. There is also a thing called “Sideways effect” in the wine industry. After the airing of the movie, there has been a significant rise in the sale of pinot noir in United States, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Merlot sales dropped by 2% in comparison to Pinot Noir, this can be attributed to the disparaging remarks made by Miles about the wine in the film.

With due justice to the film and the wine, Sideways garnered a number of awards. Time Out London even remarked that the film was “intelligent, funny and moving”. The movie was nominated for various awards and was even coined as the “best reviewed film of 2004”. Paul Giamatti (Miles) was even named as “The World’s Best Character Actor” by the Time Magazine.

Other films that feature wine include: Disclosure (1994) starring Demi Moore and Michael Douglas, with the former using 1991 Pahlmeyer Chandonnay to seduce her new manager; The Godfather (1972) with wine as part of the family dinners of Ford Coppola; The Parent Trap (1998) featuring the young Lindsay Lohan living at Napa’s Staglin Family Vineyards; the bewildering and accidentally comical A Walk in the Clouds with the film revolving around the love story between Keanu Reeves and Aitana (Victoria Aragon) a daughter of a California vineyard owner.

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