Classic Wine Movies

Classic wine movies
Written by Aksel Ritenis

We offer reviews of some classic wine movies such as Sideways, Mondovino, Bottle Shock and Corked.

Classic wine movies


Sideways” is an American comedy-drama film written by Jim Taylor and directed by Alexander Payne. Adapted from Rex Pickett’s 2004 novel, “Sideways” follows two forty something men, who take a week-long road trip to the wine country of Santa Barbara. A wine tasting road trip to salute Jack’s final days as a bachelor careens woefully sideways as he and Miles hit the gas en route to mid-life crises. The comically mismatched pair, who share little more than their history and a heady blend of failed potential and fading youth, soon find themselves drowning in wine and women. Emerging from a haze of Pinot Noir, wistful yearnings and trepidation about the future, the two inevitably collide with reality. Throughout the fi lm, Miles speaks fondly of the red wine varietal Pinot Noir. Following the fi lm’s U.S. release in October 2004, Merlot Sales dropped 2% while Pinot Noir Sales increased 16% in the Western United States. A similar trend occurred in British wine outlets. Sales of Merlot dropped after the film’s release presumably due to Miles’ disparaging remarks about the varietal in the film.


In seven countries across three continents, the family succession saga of Napa Valley power brokers weaves together with the bitter rivalry of two aristocratic Florentine dynasties, and the inter-generational struggle of a Burgundian family trying to preserve its few acres of vineyards. It also connects to the exploits of a gleeful lying winemaker from Bordeaux who preaches the gospel of modernity and globalization from the hills of Tuscany to the pampas of Argentina. For thousands of years, wine has been a symbol of Western Civilization. But never has the fi ght for its soul been as desperate and defining as it is today. Never has so much pride and money – been at stake. And, never have the battle lines been so clearly drawn between old world and new, between simple peasants and billionaires, and between the local and artisanal styles of wine production and the multinational and mass-produced ones. With wine sold at local supermarkets throughout the world, one can certainly argue that a greater number of consumers have a greater taste for wine than ever before. What that wine tastes like is another matter.


There are certain moments in history when America has proven itself to the world and one of such moments in history, which however, never got the recognition it deserved: in 1976, a small American winery bested the exalted French wines of the time and sent the wine industry into a tizzy putting California wines on the map for good. Based on a true story, “Bottle Shock” chronicles the events leading up to the famous “Judgment of Paris” tastings, told through the lives of father and son, Jim and Bo Barrett. A former real estate attorney, Jim sacrificed everything to realize his dream of creating the perfect hand-crafted Chardonnay. His business, however, is struggling, and he’s not only trying to overcome differences with his slacker son, but is also fighting off the creditors. Meanwhile in Paris, unwitting British wine shop owner Steven Spurrier hopes to revive his own failing business by sponsoring a competition which will pit the traditional French powerhouse against the California upstarts. Little did Steven and Jim realize that they were both on course to change the history of wine forever.

CORKED / 2008

“Corked,” an independent feature fi lm satirizing the world of the California wine country that was memorably portrayed in the Oscar-winning 2004 feature film “Sideways,” is a hilarious tale told, written and directed by documentary filmmakers Ross Clendenen and Paul Hawley of four distinctly different wineries and their intertwined fate in Northern California wine country. A prestigious celebrity wine critic is coming to the area and everyone is trying to make sure their wine ends up on his golden palate. A diverse group of characters inhabit this region, ranging from a fiercely independent “one man show” to an established ‘family’ winery where the word family is a registered trademark. An eccentric “rich kid” attempts to make his mark in his fathers newly acquired vineyard and two marketing executives are determined to tap into new markets with an edgy high-concept label. We follow this group through the toils of harvest, and their quest for recognition leading to the Golden Harvest Gala!

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Aksel Ritenis

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