Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Winding Down with a Wine Movie

Wine drinkers are usually romantics at heart. We love the history, the legacy, the terroir of the grapes.  We’re swept away by an Italian wine harvest, a Spanish wine cellar, even a sunset over a vineyard.  So it makes sense that most wine movies are romantic comedies.  Most, but not all; here are a few wine movies to consider for your Autumn viewing.

A Walk in the Clouds (1995)
A Walk in the Clouds is actually a remake of a 1942 Italian film, Four Steps in the Clouds.  It tells the story of a WW II soldier who has returned home to California after the war, determined to make a go of his hasty wartime marriage.  But fate intervenes and he meets a pregnant young woman on a train in need of assistance.  Posing as her husband so that her traditional Mexican family will not know the truth, he decides to stay at her family’s vineyard and help with the harvest.  A growing attraction develops between the couple, but there is still a wife and angry father to be dealt with, along with a raging fire.  Maybe a bit melodramatic, but nothing a brooding glass of Zinfandel won’t set right.

French Kiss (1995)
In French Kiss, wine is more of an after-thought than a star player.  The plot centers around the girl planning her wedding, when her guy goes to France and falls in love with someone else. Girl goes to France to win him back, but accidentally joins up with a petty crook who has stolen a vine cutting.  There's a lot of racing around France where confusion reigns supreme.  But all’s well that ends well - in a vineyard. Pour a lighthearted French Beaujolais Nouveau and enjoy this American romantic comedy.

Sideways (2004)
After almost ten years without a wine movie, Sideways came barreling in to theatres with very little romance, but a whole lot of wine character(s). The movie was actually adapted from a book by the same name.  Billed as a comedy-drama, the movie follows two friends as they take a weeklong road trip to the Santa Ynez Valley wineries to celebrate one’s last few days of  ‘freedom’ before his wedding. Of course, trouble ensues in the form of two wine savvy local women, and one friend’s perpetual tendency to be depressing.  The ending, while somewhat predicable, is not totally what you expect and it leaves you waiting for the sequel – Vertical to be made.

Sideways is the movie that pushed Merlot to the back of the shelf after regaling the attributes of Pinot Noir.  (Sales of Pinot went up 16% after the movie’s release.) So depending upon your alliance, pour a glass of California Pinot Noir to sip and savor, or allow yourself to be seduced by an oaky Merlot – Miles be damned!

A Good Year (2006)
A Good Year is a blend of nostalgia and fond memories, with a focus on the future.  Based on a novel by Peter Mayle, this British romantic comedy is set at a vineyard estate in Provence. When a British investment trader inherits his uncle’s estate, his life becomes even more complicated.  He also inherits a possessive vineyard manager/winemaker, an unpredictable café owner, and a long-lost cousin.  Suffice it to say the vineyard manager’s dedication, so far as to sing to his grapes, and all of that gorgeous French countryside had me at "Bon Jour."  Pour a robust French Syrah, add some cheese and olives with a hearty French bread and aimer la vie.

Bottle Shock (2008)
The movie, Bottle Shock, is based on the 1976 wine competition called the Judgment of Paris.  For the first time ever, a California wine beat out a French wine in a blind wine tasting.  The movie depicts how California wines were regarded before Napa Valley was famous, and how, with the right amount of devotion and dedication, you can craft a wine that literally speaks from the glass.  Billed as an American comedy-drama, this is a favorite of those who root for the underdog!  Pour a glass of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay (the winner in the 1976 competition,) sit back and say “Cheers” to the home team….again.

With Autumn's arrival comes cool nights, perfect for stoking up the fire, pouring your wine of choice, popping in a wine movie, and getting lost in an entertaining tale about wine.

~ Joy