Wine Movies: Wine and Film Through the Years

From Hitchcock to Bottle Shock.


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Most theaters won’t let you sip wine during the movie, but catching reruns at home can solve that problem. And what better movies for pairing with a favorite bottle than a film with wine in a starring role?

WE decided to take a look at movies featuring wine—either in a lead or a supporting role. From Hitchcock’s 1946 thriller Notorious with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman to the most recent vintage, Bottle Shock, starring Alan Rickman and Bill Pullman, movies cast wine as a lure to tap into America’s fascination with the grape.

Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock hid the clue to the mystery in Notorious (1946) in a bottle of 1934 Pommard. Cary Grant accidentally knocks the bottle from its perch, smashing the bottle and spilling its contents of uranium ore on the ground, to nail the villain.

In This Earth is Mine (1959), a California winemaking dynasty is struggling to survive Prohibition. Claude Rains as patriarch Philippe Rambeau opposes selling grapes to bootleggers and it’s up to Rock Hudson and Jean Simmons to save the family vineyard.

Anthony Quinn’s portrayal of Italo Bombolini in the war-time mini-epic, The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969), almost looks like he’s playing himself. Routinely red-cheeked and wine-soused throughout the movie, Bombolini’s task is to find a way to hide the village’s millions of bottles of wine from the encroaching German army.

Year of the Comet (1992) pairs Tim Daly and Penelope Ann Miller in a breezy comedy about an upstart wine appraiser (Miller) who discovers a magnificent bottle of Bordeaux from 1811. A three-party villain-hero-villain chase ensues, with the vinous prize jostled from hand to hand.

A Walk in the Clouds (1995) has stunning landscapes, colorful festivals, and a serious plotline. Keanu Reeves plays Paul Sutton, a GI returning from the war, who falls for the beautiful Aitana Sánchez-Gijón (Victoria), daughter of a wine family in California. Her cantankerous father, played by Giancarlo Giannini, is the opposite of his father, Anthony Quinn, who plays the wise and all-knowing–while all drunken–patriarch.

Paul Giamatti tries in vain to add culture to Thomas Haden Church’s womanizing ways in Sideways (2004). Thought by many to be Pinot Noir’s ultimate manifesto, the movie mixes outrageous comedy with astute wine critique, served up by a superb cast that includes Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh.

A Good Year (2006) tests whether Russell Crowe can balance machismo with winemaking. Max Skinner (Crowe) is a carnivorous Wall Street lion. He returns to French wine country after the death of Uncle Harry (Albert Finney) and is tamed by the romantic routines of the vineyard–not to mention the alluring ways of Fanny Chenal (played by Marion Cotillard)–to discover his new/old self.

Alan Rickman plays Steven Spurrier, a London wineseller, in Bottle Shock (2009) who decides to pit American wines against their French forebears. After trolling the California countryside, Rickman discovers that the “kids from the sticks” actually make some pretty good wine, so he teams with Maurice Cantavale (deftly played by Dennis Farina) to set up the competition. Based on a true story, this is a coming out party for American wine.

What's your favorite wine-centered movie? Leave a comment below telling us your favorites. 

 Planning on throwing an Oscar night soiree this year? See  Party Like the Stars on Oscar Night for recipe ideas and guidelines on bringing the red carpet to your home.
 

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Reader Comments:
Mar 8, 2010 08:53 am
 Posted by  jenrier

Cool article! I'm planning to watch 'A Walk in the Clouds' again :)

Jun 2, 2010 02:45 pm
 Posted by  m4q

does anyone know what wine sylvia in "The Jane Austen Bookclub" is drinking? It is a midnight blue colored bottle that ends with the word "wood". She is on the phone talking to her friend Jocelyn...these are the character names.

I would like to find out so I can begin to shop around for it.

Jun 18, 2010 08:49 pm
 Posted by  JD

Be ready!! the movie "The Ways of Wine" is coming soon...

The famously renowned sommelier Charlie Arturaola travels to Argentina, invited along with other colleagues to participate in a series of tastings that take place at the prestigious event organized by Mendozas Hyatt, called: "Masters of food and wine". Once he arrives at the country, something unexpected occurs: a couple of days before the main event in Mendoza City, in a photo shoot, the glamour, the stress, the marketing, the hectic rhythm of the session and finally drinking out of a glass that contained artificial colorants that allow a better contrast of the wine in the cameras, Charlie suffers the complete and absolute loss of his palate and sense of taste. He needs to recover it.

"The ways of wine" tells the story, in a dramatic yet fun and comedic tone, of the return of Charlie Arturaola back to his essences; back to that day when he was 11 years old, and while hiding in a barrel of wine playing hide and seek, he first sensed that aroma that would strike him and determine his fate forever

Jun 19, 2010 01:26 pm
 Posted by  chrz

Why are we listing movies that are basically unavailable to see? I'm totally bummed to finally track down info on "This Earth is Mine" only to find that you can't buy or rent it anywhere. It would be quite a freak happenstance to have it come on the movie channel and just get the perfect bottle of wine ready to accompany the movie!

Jul 30, 2010 10:13 pm
 Posted by  Cellarmistress

If you want to see a really funny and cheesy wine-related movie, look for "There's A Girl In My Soup" (1970) starring Peter Sellers and Goldie Hawn. He's a philandering playboy and food/wine critic who gets mixed up with a very young Goldie Hawn and takes her to a disastrous wine tasting in the Loire Valley. You have to see the shenanigans to believe it!

This has been flagged
Aug 23, 2010 02:06 pm
 Posted by  Johnnyb

Sideways. Because of this movie Merlot and Cab Franc sales drop and all of a sudden Pinot Noir prices start going through the roof. For those of you who started drinking Pinot Noir in because of this movie, please check the component varietals in Milos prized bottle of 1961 Ch. Cheval Blanc to see how hard you got punked.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sideways

Oct 5, 2011 05:58 pm
 Posted by  bothenjs

Bottle Shock and the documentary about the winery in AZ run by thelead singer of Tool

This has been flagged
Nov 14, 2011 09:49 pm
 Posted by  moNH

RE post by Bothenjs
No, I thought it said it 'had been flagged as inappropriate' it most definitely is! so sorry

Nov 14, 2011 09:54 pm
 Posted by  moNH

A couple of other
John Cleese - wine for the confused is a funny fun intro to wine.
MerLove - an attempt to win drinkers back to Merlot
Escaping Robert Parker - documentary by Julian Faulkner to sell wines without Parkers scores.

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