As you would assume, wine is everywhere in my life, in writing, tasting, reading – even movie watching. It has been exciting over the last decade to see more and more movies not just with wine in the background, but with the world of wine being a major theme. I admit to not being a movie critic, but these are a couple of my favorites to consider adding to your movie library. Of course watching with a great glass of wine in hand makes the experience even more enjoyable.
Bottle Shock (2008) may be my favorite wine movie of all time. Having the infamous 1976 Judgment of Paris made into a movie should make any American wine consumer proud. The story is of the early days of California wine making, when most people didn’t have any idea of the world-class wine California was producing.
It all changed when a Paris wine retailer, alongside Britain’s Steven Spurrier, organized a unique and original blind wine tasting: California versus France. California wines were brought against not only historic wine greats, but also the discerning taste of the world’s most elite palates. The blind tasting, not revealing producers, gave California an overall rating of superior when the winners were announced: a 1973 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and a 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.
You can only imagine the reaction across the globe from the outcome of this competition. The movie focuses on the story of Chateau Montelena’s amazing beginnings with the experiences of a small production winery in the 1970s struggling with business, a pretentious global industry, a bottle shock adventure and, as with all great movies, layers of evolving relationships.
Somm (2012) is a more-recent release that received mixed reviews from wine critics, but it is one of my favorites. The documentary follows four men who practically put their lives on hold to study for the Master Sommelier Exam.
I’ve been asked many times to explain the complicated process of studying for Master of Wine (MW) or Master Sommelier (MS). From my years of studying through the Diploma of Wines and Spirits, a prerequisite for the MW program, this movie hits home, down to my many maps taped to mirrors, flashcards being read at stop lights and the support of family and study group peers.
If anyone is interested in better understanding the commitments of these types of programs, this movie is a front-row seat to the experience. The movie illustrates the dedication and competitiveness on level with medical school or law school, necessary to become a master sommelier. At this level about the only thing separating the students is wine.
This is not a movie to watch with anyone who is not equally a wine geek. But it does offer a rare glimpse into the world of wine and service credentials. My main disappointment in the movie was that no women were featured on the path to the exams.