Looking to enjoy a film about wine and winemaking? Here are a few movies for you to check out the next time you’re at the video rental store or updating your queue.
Sideways (2004, dir. Alexander Payne)
One of the most critically acclaimed comedies of the past decade, Sideways won multiple awards for its screenwriters, director, and stars. Set during a single wild weekend in the Santa Barbara wine country, the film follows the misadventures of a lovelorn English teacher and wine aficionado named Miles and his scoundrel best friend. The film was so widely seen and acclaimed that it even had a measurable impact on wine sales in countries where it was shown. Characters within the film speak admirably of Pinot Noir and disparage Merlot—after the film was released, sales of Merlot dropped 2% and sales of Pinot Noir rose a significant 16%!
Bottle Shock (2008, dir. Randall Miller)
Bottle Shock dramatizes the 1976 “Judgement of Paris,” a tasting competition that shook up the winemaking world’s prevailing wisdom that French wines were inherently superior. The film stars Alan Rickman as internationally reknowned sommelier Steven Spurrier, who first set up the competition.
Autumn Tale (Conte d’automne) (1998, dir. Eric Rohmer)
The final installment of Rohmer’s “Four Seasons” cycle, Autumn Tale follows the life and passion of a widowed winemaker named Magali, played by Beátrice Romand. It is set and filmed within the Rhône Valley wine region of France. The film has been described by various critics as “sensuous,” “sublimely warming,” “beautiful, witty, and serene,” and a film that “elegantly seduces us.”
A Good Year (2006, dir. Ridley Scott)
Possibly the least well-received film on this list, this Russell Crowe/Marion Cotillard romantic comedy does at least boast some stunning visuals—from a filmmaker famous for stunning visuals—of the Provence wine country. And Crowe and Cotillard, as well, are also pretty easy on the eyes.
Mondovino (2004, dir. Jonathan Nossiter)
We finish up this list with a celebrated documentary—it was nominated for the Palme d’Or, the Cannes Film Festival’s highest honor—that takes a look at the economics and politics of wine in a global economy. Nossiter, a trained sommelier, casts his critical eye on the battle between large winemaking corporations such as Robert Mondavi and the smaller, single-vineyard wineries. Originally planned as a small, two-month project, Nossiter ended up spending significantly more time interviewing dozens of wine personalities in seven countries, across three continents, and five different languages.
You may wish to watch these films with a bottle of your favorite wine, but be careful—you may finish the film even thirstier than you were when you started!