I was thinking about putting together a list of the 10 best wine movies ever. But just about anybody could do that, especially considering there have been only a couple dozen films that actually were about wine.
So I decided to think about not only wine movies, but also wine scenes in movies of all kinds. My motivation: this Sunday’s big wine event on California’s Catalina Island that was motivated by the No. 10 movie on my list.
David Letterman may be retired, but the Top 10 List lives on!
- STEP BROTHERS
As IMDb notes, this movie, starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, is about “two aimless middle-aged losers, still living at home, who are forced against their will to become roommates when their parents marry.” One pivotal part of the film occurs at a Catalina Wine Mixer — or, as it was described in the film, “It’s the Catalina f—— Wine Mixer!”
Now, in an example of life imitating art, the 1st annual Catalina Wine Mixer is scheduled to take place this Sunday (September 13) on Catalina Island. The Descanso Beach Club will host the event, and The Dan Band will headline the entertainment.
Tickets were priced at $35 for general admission and $100 for a VIP experience. We say “were” because all tickets are sold out. You can read more about the event here: http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/event/catalina-wine-mixer
- SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE
If you want to know why the Meg Ryan character ended up with the Tom Hanks instead of her boyfriend at the time, it’s because the boyfriend at one point said to a restaurant server, “Can we get a bottle of Dom DeLuise?”
- DIE ANOTHER DAY
If you thought James Bond drinks only martinis that are shaken, not stirred, you did not see this movie in which, after being tortured in a Korean prison for more than a year, 007 is freed and wants only two things: a shave and a bottle of 1961 Bollinger Champagne. Not necessarily in that order.
- MISS CONGENIALITY
The Michael Caine and Sandra Bullock characters are in a restaurant. He is sipping a glass of red wine, and she is downing her beer. When it’s time for a refill, he says, “Gaston, I’ll have another Cabernet Sauvignon.” Then he looks at Bullock and inquires, “And another keg for you?”
- UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN
A recently divorced writer (played by Diane Lane) impulsively buys a villa in Tuscany in order to change her life. There are lots of beautiful vineyard scenes — not surprising because, after all, Tuscany is home to mile after mile of beautiful vineyards.
- SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
All together now: “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
- BOTTLE SHOCK
The story of “The Judgment of Paris,” the legendary blind tasting, organized by an English wine merchant, that ultimately helped elevate California on the world wine stage right alongside France.
- SECRET OF SANTA VITTORIA
It’s World War II. The Germans are approaching. So the residents of an Italian town work together to hide no fewer than a million bottles of wine. “Without wine, we are nothing,” the mayor of the city proclaims, going on to describe wine as “the blood of our labor.”
Follows four candidates as they study night day and night for the Master Sommelier exam. This movie is the overriding reason I, personally, decided not to pursue Master Sommelier certification. You can read my full review of the film here.
The countdown concludes as it began — with an F-bomb. To quote the Paul Giamatti character, Miles Raymond: “No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any f—— Merlot!”
But I’d rather remember “Sideways” for this observation from the Virginia Madsen character, Maya: “I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing; how the sun was shining; if it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it’s an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I’d opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And it’s constantly evolving and gaining complexity.”
It was a wine moment from the movies that was worthy of an Oscar.