Wine Watch: The Finest Films with Wine at their Heart

The e in wine in this case stands for entertainment. These are the films to binge on for anyone who loves a tale and a taste of wine.

Watching a movie is a pleasure. Enjoying a glass of wine is a pleasure. Enjoying a glass of wine while watching a film is a pleasure. Enjoying a glass of wine while watching a film about wine is the aforementioned pleasure times three. From riveting documentaries to comical films and from a glimpse into the rise of Californian wines to the revolution of Barolo, the realm of wine films is as good as your favorite wine. 

As beautifully as wine lends itself to some glorious moments of life, the films on this list lend themselves to a binge night. 

Bottle Shock (2008)

The film, based on a true story that took place in 1976 follows the journey of Steven Spurrier, played by the legendary Alan Rickman. In what is a full-bodied tale of comedy and drama, Steven, a British expatriate travels to California (Napa takes prominence later on in the film) in search of fine American wines to bring some respectable competition to the French, who had dominated the winemaking industry for centuries. The competition in question was the Judgement of Paris, a blind wine tasting event. 

Bill Pullman (Jim Barrett) and Chris Pine, with flowy long hair (Bo Barrett), are the guys producing the wines in California. Littered with hilarious moments, compelling times, Bottle Shock is the story of the emergence of California wine country. Go back in time and see what Californian wine culture was in the 70s. 

A Good Year (2006)

Ridley Scott in the director’s chair, two Academy Award winners Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard as the lead actors and a vineyard at the heart of the story, this is the movie for the cine wine connoisseurs. Max Skinner is a money man who spent most of his childhood in the Provence château and vineyards that belonged to his uncle. As he grows up and moves out of the city, the memories of his time at the vineyard get locked away in a corner of his heart. 

This is the case until one fateful day he finds out that his uncle has named him the heir to the vineyards, the château, and the plantations. As he goes back for a visit, the grand memories he has attached to the place come flooding back. It is also at the vineyard that he meets Fanny Chenal (played by Marion Cotillard). He intends on selling the place and what follows is a majestic and soulful tale, just like a glass of fine wine. A Good Year is more than a good watch. 

Barolo Boys. The Story of a Revolution (2014)

Who doesn’t love a story of triumph? And who doesn’t love a bottle of good wine? But, what happens when you get a mix of both? You get Barolo Boys. The Story of a Revolution. The world of wine is one with exploration at its heart. It is in essence what the film is all about. Barolo is one of the most acclaimed Italian wine varietals out there. 

This wasn’t always the case. The film brings the story of a group of friends who decided to bring a wine revolution by dabbling their hands in a new varietal, standing up to the year-old customs of the Piedmontese countryside. Aside from the fascinating backstory of the film, the scenes set in the beautiful region of Langhe make the documentary a must-watch for wine enthusiasts. 

Sideways (2004)

Based on Rex Pickett’s novel, Sideways follows the story of two friends, Miles, a writer, the other, Jack a to-be married actor, who go to the Santa Ynez Valley to celebrate the latter’s bachelor party. Miles is in love with wine and wants to enjoy quality time sipping on the finest wines around. Jack, on the other hand, wants to enjoy his final week as a bachelor. 

What follows is a tale that is hilarious, thoughtful and charming, all brought together in the vineyards of Santa Barbara. For those who are fans of Grey’s Anatomy, Sandra Oh puts in a fine performance in the film. Sideways shows us how human emotion has a very deep meaning to it, much like wine. It’s not all about what you see on the outside or at the top, to get to know a person or a wine, one has to dive deeper for the full range to reveal itself, just like the aftertaste of a wine. 

Sour Grapes (2016)

Imagine the anger at finding out the wine you have been drinking was a fake rare? Sour Grapes is a critically acclaimed documentary on Rudy Kurniawan, the man who conned investors out of millions of dollars and Bill Koch, the billionaire who exposed him. While the documentary is brilliant, with quite a few “gotcha” moments, on a deeper level it is a revelation of how subjective wine tasting is. 

The price of the wine and its quality doesn’t go hand in hand, and it isn’t a given that an expensive wine is always terrific. It is the very thing Mr Kurniawan used to deceive and trick collectors and industry insiders into buying fake wines. The perfect documentary to Netflix, Wine & Chill. A wine-win documentary. 

The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)

Adapted from a book with the same name, the protagonist of The Secret of Santa Vittoria is Italio Bombolini, a drunkard turned mayor. The town of Santa Vittoria is renowned for its vineyards and the Nazis occupying the town know about it as well. Captain Von Prum, the Nazi leader and his troops plan on taking all the wine for themselves. 

Led by Bombolini, the residents of the village decide to resist this ploy by hiding several cases of their wine. It is a story of tenacity and holding what is close to your heart for as long as you can. In the case of the residents of Santa Vittoria, that thing was their tradition of winemaking. 

Saint Amour (2016)

There must’ve been times at wine tasting parties or social gatherings that you remember fondly for the fun and the overzealous group of people that made it fun. Saint-Amour is a very similar French film, with the tempo going two notches higher. Why? Because it focuses on a father-son bonding trip, in a taxi, through the wine regions of France. 

The premise is pretty simple, isn’t it? The film, anything but that. Get ready to go on a journey of love, passion, and roars of laughter as you watch the duo and their affable cab driver taste (sometimes gulp) through glasses of wine, eat delicious slices of pizza and get to know the wine regions of France. As Jean says in the film, “I have started drinking again but I am getting closer to Bruno.” Saint Amour could be the film to bring you closer to the wines of France. 

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