Top 10 Movies Every Wine Lover Needs to Watch Right Now
Wine lovers who also harbor a fondness for film have relatively few options for satisfying their two loves.
Films about wine, winemaking and wine drinking are few and far between. Yet, a careful review of the recent history of cinema delivers up a select group of worthwhile films. Some explore the making of wine, some the study and appreciation of wine, still others the crimes surrounding wine. Yet all of the top 10 films about wine portray a reverence for the drink that wine lovers will easily recognize.
This was the film that reportedly put Merlot sales on a decade-long sales slump and elevated Pinot Noir to a phenomenon. It’s also one of the best films to put wine appreciation and connoisseurship front and center. The film follows writer and wine lover Miles on his depressing journey to a better self-realization, while showcasing the Santa Barbara wine country. Don’t miss the dissertation by Maya, played by Virginia Madsen, on the sublime nature of Pinot Noir.
2. Bottle Shock (2008)
“Bottle Shock” is a fun retelling of the historic 1976 “Tasting of Paris” in which an American wine bests the French wines in a competition organized by Stephen Spurrier, a Brit living in Paris. The film features a young Chris Pine and showcases Napa and Sonoma Valleys back before they were the famed wine regions they are today. FUN FACT: The town of Sonoma is used as a stand-in for the City of Paris.
3. A Good Year (2006)
This lovely little film set in London and the South of France seeks to demonstrate how exposure to the slower, simpler ways of wine country can impact our perspective on what’s important in life. Russell Crow is the high-powered banker from London who, with the help of a local French maiden and some outstanding wine, has his eyes opened to the potential of a different kind of life.
4. French Kiss (1995)
Less about wine than about the budding romance between American Meg Ryan and French con man Kevin Klein, “French Kiss” leans on wine as a prop by revealing that Kevin Klein’s character is a wine lover and prospective vineyard owner in France. The payoff is the scene in which Klein and Ryan contemplate the aromatic qualities in a wine and reflect on how the wine — being a product of its environment — is not so different from people.
5. A Walk in The Clouds (1995)
In “A Walk in the Clouds,” Keanu Reeves is a young man who returns from World War II — only to fall for the young daughter of a California vintner. The film is set in California wine country, presumably Napa Valley. Winemaking, wine drinking, and wine traditions are on display in this love story. You won’t learn a great deal about wine or wine country, but you get to look at a young, clean-cut Keanu Reeves while imagining the Napa of the post-war 1940s.
6. A Heavenly Vintage (2009)
7. Mondovino (2004)
“Mondovino,” produced by wine lover and American filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter, foresaw the current “natural wine” movement. The documentary film’s critique of the wine industry not only calls out its globalization, but also highlights what Nossiter believed to be the harmful impact on wine quality from overbearing wine critics and international wine consultants. The film takes aim at large wine companies such as Robert Mondavi, while championing the small estate producers as the saviors of the wine industry in an age of homogenized product and increased globalization. It’s a polemic. But it’s well done.
8. Sour Grapes (2016)
Another documentary, this one takes aim at the fascinating saga of Rudy Kurniawan, the wine collector and counterfeiter who inserted himself into the upper echelons of wine connoisseurship in the United States. The profile of Kurniawan is fascinating, but just as compelling is the film’s take on the story of how Rudy was investigated, chased down, and ultimately convicted of forging millions of dollars of rare and collectible wine.
9. You Will Be My Son (2013)
This French family drama follows the story of a Saint Emilion winery that has a very long history of being passed down from generation to generation. Unfortunately for and devastating to the son of the owner, this young man is simply not what his father wants in a successor. Instead, dad sees the winery’s future better cared for by the son of the help. It’s a powerful family drama deeply entrenched in the culture of the French wine industry.
10. The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1966)
Set in Italy during World War II, the film tells the story of the proud townspeople who are led by the mayor of their town, who is played by the great Antony Quinn. The “secret” is the fact that the villagers attempt to hide 1,000,000 bottles of the town’s finest wines from the Germans, who are coming to occupy the town and confiscate the wine. It is a wonderful story of resistance and pride and wine.
Tom Wark has worked in the wine industry for 30 years and has become a go-to source for wine information via his blog, “Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog”. Wark’s blog has won multiple “Best Wine Blog” and “Best Wine Business Blog” awards at the American Wine Blog Awards. He has written for numerous publications and has been a featured speaker at wine industry events.
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