A Fly in Your Chardonnay: 25 Years of Wine in Pop Culture

Wine has been on SNL, rocked out with KISS and earned more than a few Oscar nods. Here's a look back at vino's greatest hits. No pictures, please.


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Sure, Sideways single-handedly affected Merlot sales for years, but what about hip hop’s love affair and eventual fallout with prestigious brands like Cristal? Did Hannibal Lecter’s love for Chianti (paired with fava beans) boost the wine’s popularity? As Wine Enthusiast Magazine kicks off its second quarter century, we decided to reflect on the past—more specifically, wine’s presence in pop culture over the past 25 years.

1981–1990: Remember Falcon Crest, the long-running soap about the tyrannical wine family? What about Matriarch Angela Channing’s endless scheming set against the backdrop of California’s fictitious Tuscany Valley?

1990: In The Simpsons episode “Crepes of Wrath,” Bart is enrolled in a foreign exchange program when he blows up a cherry bomb in the school bathroom just as Principal Skinner’s mother enters. Bart’s French “exchange family” is really a pair of sleazy vineyard owners who treat him as a slave. He crushes grapes, works harder than the mule, and even tests wine blended with antifreeze. He eventually uses his fluent French to get the vineyard owners imprisoned for their abuse.

1990: When Edward escorts Vivian to his hotel room in Pretty Woman, he orders some Champagne and strawberries. Now that’s a sexy tasting session.

1991: Arguably the most gruesome wine pairing in history: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti,” said Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.

1992: In the movie Year of the Comet, the world’s most rare bottle of wine (bottled in view of a comet in 1811) is discovered, and an international pursuit to bring it to auction ensues, along with other shenanigans.

1993: In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character drinks sweet vermouth on the rocks, with a twist every day for 10 years, until he learns how not to be a jerk.

1994: Demi Moore’s character tries to seduce Michael Douglas’s character in the film adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Disclosure, by sharing a bottle of 1991 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay. (Alas, her wine advances are spurned.)

1995: Alanis Morissette sings about “a black fly in your Chardonnay,” in her famous song, “Ironic.” We’d call it unfortunate. 

1996: Tupac (RIP) dropped his original cocktail recipe for “Thug Passion” on the namesake track. Simply mix equal parts Cristal with Alizé Gold Passion, he rapped.

1996: Jay-Z's adoration for Cristal goes way back to ’96, when he rhymed "My motto, stack rocks like Colorado/Auto off the Champagne, Cristals by the bottle," in his song, “Can't Knock the Hustle.”

1997: Jack Nicholson plays a shady wine merchant with family issues and a penchant for pinching jewelry in Blood and Wine.

1998: In the remake of The Parent Trap, Lindsay Lohan's film debut, American twin Hallie Parker's dad, Nick (played by Dennis Quaid) owns a Napa winery. It was filmed on location at Staglin Vineyards.

1999: Ricky Martin was “Livin’ La Vida Loca” in 1999 when he crooned, “She never drinks the water and makes you order French Champagne /Once you've had a taste of her you'll never be the same.” The only loca thing was how often this song was played on the radio.

2000: OK, not officially 2000 but pretty darn close. At a pre-New Year’s fête, Jennifer Lopez and P. Diddy were seen leaving a club—open bottle of Champagne in tow—when Diddy accidentally knocked another patron’s drink out of his hand. Next thing you know, a stack of cash is thrown into Diddy’s face and shots are fired. Three people are injured. And yes, the patron’s drink was that good.

2001: The year Lil’ Kim, Christina Aguilera, Mya, Pink and Missy Elliot revived the 1974 song “Lady Marmalade” for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. Besides the infamously salacious chorus, they belt out the line, “Boy drank all that magnolia wine. We drink wine with diamonds in the glass.”

2002: A KISS-themed wine dubbed “KISS This” is released in alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions.

2003: In the movie Intolerable Cruelty, Catherine Zeta-Jones’s character and George Clooney’s character exchange barbs over a bottle of Château Margaux.

2004: In a Saturday Night Live skit titled “Cork Soakers,” Janet Jackson and Chris Parnell are tourists who visit a winery and meet Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sans, who teach them how they, um—how do we say this?—soak corks.

2005: Hip hop’s love affair with Cristal makes another appearance on our list, but this time it’s Kanye West rapping, “You know what though? You my favorite accident. So go ahead and pop some Cristal.” These lyrics can be heard on his second studio album, Late Registration.

2006: In an interview with The Economist, Managing Director Frédéric Rouzaud of Roederer (producer of Cristal) was quoted as saying, "I'm sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business." Jay-Z subsequently issued a statement that he'd no longer support the brand, saying, "I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products."

2007: In a joint effort, Disney and Pixar planned to release a French-produced Ratatouille-branded wine to celebrate their animated film, but they had to nix their plans because of labeling restrictions pertaining to the use of cartoon characters. It might have something to do with avoiding marketing to underage drinkers.

2008: Bottle Shock, starring Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman and Chris Pine, dramatizes of the legendary Judgment of Paris and how Chateau Montelena's 1973 Chardonnay beat out French-produced Chardonnay.

2009: “Mimosa” was Pantone's color of the year. “A warm, cheerful shade that sparks imagination and innovation and expressing hope and reassurance,” they announced.

2010: Drake and Trey Songz rap the line, “It’s a celebration clap clap bravo/Lobster and shrimp and a glass of Moscato,” propelling the fruity, aromatic white into stardom.

2011: PBS released The Winemakers, a reality competition held in the Rhône Valley that put 12 wine lovers up against each other as they made their own wines.

2012: Burgundy got the Anthony Bourdain treatment when his hit show, No Reservations, followed him and chef Ludo Lefebvre (a native of the region) as they wined and dined themselves into a stupor. 

Read the top stories that changed the way we drank wine then, and how they are still influencing our culture now >>>

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