Is there a better time than fall to cozy up on the couch and binge watch movies, shows and documentaries about all your favorite things? As the twilight appears, pour yourself and your friends or sweetheart a glass and catch these flicks that will make you laugh, cry and think about wine a little differently.
Sideways (2004), directed by Alexander Payne
You knew it would be on here, so let’s talk about one of the most acclaimed films featuring a vinicultural backdrop in the history of cinema.
Like many landmark films, this one was an adapted screenplay from a novel by Rex Pickett. Part rom-com and part indie flick, Sideways tells the story of two guys enjoying one final heyday before one of them gets married. And, as one might expect, the characters face myriad moral quandaries, all while exploring Santa Barbara’s extraordinary wine culture.
Sideways is particularly notable for its impact on the wine industry, particularly pinot noirs and merlots. USA Today published a report on the fascinating “Sideways effect” on the 10th anniversary of the film in 2014. Starring Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen, an A-list cast brings a vibrant story to life, full of hook-ups, hijinks and a heck of a lot of wine.
SOMM (2012), directed by Jason Wise
As documentaries go, SOMM is a masterclass in more ways than one. The film is driven by the stories of four candidates striving to gain one of the most elite statuses in the world: Master Sommelier.
Full of obsession, intensity and fascinating motivations, the film pays homage to the complexity and vastness of wine as a cultural, agricultural, economic, and social industry. You’ll get to meet the family, friends and other famous Masters—a club which now boasts only 230 members worldwide.
A Year in Burgundy (2013), directed by David Kennard
Wine, for many in the world, is a family legacy. It has shaped generations of livelihoods and identities, and is deeply tied to a sense of place and culture. That’s part of what A Year in Burgundy explores.
A renowned French wine region known for robust reds, Burgundy is rife with wine history. The documentary chronicles 365 days in the life of numerous winemakers who are each unique artists in their own right.
Pitting modernity against deeply rooted traditionalism, we uncover through A Year in Burgundy an intersectional look at life on the vineyard.
Wine for the Confused (2004), directed by David Kennard
Prior to his “A Year in…” trilogy, Kennard got to the basics of wine, and he did it, thankfully, with John Cleese.
This accessible documentary is a perfect high-level look at wine making and wine drinking as Cleese gives a 360-degree view for the wine novice. This is a must-watch with friends you’re trying to win over to the wine side.
Light-hearted and well-reviewed, Wine for the Confused brings a little clarity to us all.