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Wine movies are a great window into the passions at play in the sociology of wine. Watching Bottle Shock, Mondovino or Sideways,  (or other movies, see Wine and Film Through the Years) we discover conflict lines, affinities, industry and consumer concerns through the eyes of filmmakers who more often than not, are deeply involved in wine themselves.

Bottle Shock (2009): the entertaining take on a real story. The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, or also called the Judgment of Paris, was a wine competition organized in Paris on 24 May 1976 by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant. In this movie, we follow Spurrier traveling through California in search of quality US wine. We see the ups and downs of Napa winery, Chateau Montelena. In the competition, French judges did blind tasting of top-quality chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon wines from France and from California.  Guess who won.
88/100: Hugely entertaining and unmissable if you are an upstart in the wine business. A vintner on Long Island I just interviewed claimed the story will be his story one day  (reviewed by trondau on 17 Oct 2010).

Mondovino (2004): a documentary by Jonathan Nossiter about the tensions between commercialism and traditionalism in the making of wine around the world, passionately arguing against the role of wine conglomerates (such as Mondavi at the time),  wine critic Robert M. Parker and flying winemaker Michel Rolland in standardizing the taste of wine and taking away from traditional terroir based, small production wine made by peasants. For fanatics, see the movie transcript.
87/100: Although the message is clear and well put, slightly overdone critical overtones and very rough camera handling makes this film slightly painful to watch in its entirety (reviewed by trondau on 17 Oct 2010).

Sideways (2004): a comedy-drama, Sideways tells the story of  college friends, wannabe wine writer Miles and sexy actor Jack on a roadtrip, a final week of fun before Jack gets married. They head north of Los Angeles to the Central Coast wine region and each have  adventures involving wine, women and conversations. More precisely, they spend time in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, California. The movie is famous for creating trouble for the Merlot grape in the US wine market, due to Miles’ scornful comment about it.
91/100: Sideways is hilarious if you have even the slightest fascination with grapes and the ironies of wine culture.  Moreover, it is a cultural commentary on mid-life crisis, the wine community, and the relative merits of quality wine (reviewed by trondau on 17 Oct 2010).

  1. #1 by Ellen on April 17, 2011 - 2:44 pm

    htvoA3 Good point. I hadn’t tohuhgt about it quite that way. 🙂

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