“The Stuff Dreams are Made of.” Wine Influences in Cinema

Wine has been a focus of world filmmakers since the early days of cinema. If you are a wine lover, chances are that you are going to enjoy wine movies, wine documentaries, and overall movies about wine. You can learn something new, look at gorgeous vineyard sceneries, and enjoy stories that revolve around wine.

Whether they are beautifully shot stories or documentaries unveiling wine’s mysteries, wine movies are a brilliant way to learn and appreciate the world around us.

As a wonderful companion for any dinner or special event, wine is also perfect to sip on the couch while watching a film. Even better if the film is about wine.

What wine goes with what movie? I cannot imagine a wine that does not go with any movie… maybe it’s just me, but I have yet to be disappointed. If it is wine o’clock, then simply remain calm, check out a wine-inspired movie, and pour on (respectfully suggesting).

As previously noted, often a wine can take us to a special place, merely on its own accord. Other times, a splash or sprinkle of celebrity and media stardust can present it equally with a similar achievement.

In cinema, special places are often used to frame the story that is being told. For this reason, it is usual to develop plots of love between vineyards, with the unique landscape that the vines provide in any of their growing stages throughout the year.

From an observation of a movie star, pop star or influential celebrity’s involvement, these captivating figures carry incredible pouring power when it comes to what they enjoy sipping. Who recalls the famous quote from Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Interestingly, in the Thomas Harris novel the movie is based on, the wine chosen by Hannibal Lecter for his cannibalistic banquet was actually an Amarone. The movie studio felt that not enough people knew what Amarone was so they went with the more recognisable Chianti instead.

Wine continues to play poised cameo roles in many mainstream movies.  It would be naive to imagine a Superstar Celebrity being the one personally pressing the grapes for juice after a harvest, however they do hold serious buying leverage in selling their own winery’s wine or the products they choose to be associated with.  Celebrity endorsement and product placement have been as relevant to wine, as they have been to designer fashion and all of the other lavish indulgences in our ever-growing discerning society.

Can a movie have an influential impact on wine sales? Can a movie influence the consumers perception of a specific type of wine (or grape)? Merlot, a once glorified grape, was vilified in the cult box-office hit in the 2004 black comedy film Sideways. Coincidentally, the movie Sideways celebrated Pinot Noir throughout its story. In a memorable scene while about to enter a restaurant with his friend Jack, main character and wine snob of the movie Miles, exclaimed: “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving, I am NOT drinking any (expletive) Merlot!”. Since the release of the film, ‘The Sideways Effect’ has prompted Merlot’s popularity worldwide to plummet close to 2% year on year, while in turn there has been an incredible acceleration in demand for Pinot Noir of 9% annually. In fact, the production of Pinot Noir in California has increased by 170% since the film was released, which was dubbed ‘The Sideways Effect’ by winemakers. The back story is that the character Miles’ ex-wife liked Merlot, thus his disdain for the wine. Merlot is one of the best grapes on the planet and the movie did harmful damage to its reputation.

There are many other wine-themed movies along with wine documentaries to excite the wine lover within us. From the opening to the closing of a film, wine has been used as a powerful feature and instrument to highlight the struggles, joys and personalities that the movie characters are going through.

Without a doubt, wine has served as inspiration for many directors, shaping great stories in cinema. In fact, the most influential Italian film director of all time, Federico Fellini stated the following:

“A good wine is like a good film: it lasts an instant and leaves a taste of glory in your mouth; it is new in each sip and, as with movies, it is born and reborn in each taster.”

Wine will continue to play a pivotal role in movies and conversely in our collective consciousness and decision making. I will leave you with the enthusiastic advice from Miles for the next time that you are enjoying wine with a movie: "Stick your nose in it. Don't be shy; really get your nose in there."

In celebration of the upcoming Oscars, discover the escaping world of wine for yourself: