As in life, the appearance of wine in films usually means it’s time to have fun. Whether characters stomp grapes, order a special bottle to impress a date or swap a few goblets back and forth in a fateful battle of wits, wine brightens many a scene. Here are our five favorite.
1. A Walk in the Clouds (1995)
Co-written by Robert Mark Kamen, proprietor of Sonoma’s Kamen Estate Wines and filmed at multiple Napa Valley wineries, this movie is one of those misty, wine-makes-everyone-feel-good kind of films, starring Keanu Reeves at his stilted best. The film’s vinous highlight comes in a predictably sensuous grape-stomp scene, during which characters Paul Reeves and Victoria Sánchez-Gijón dutifully fall in love.
2. The Jerk (1979)
Steve Martin films invariably feature funny wine scenes, but his quotable satire is in this classic. When his character Navin R. Johnson—an imbecile who becomes rich—is offered a second bottle of Château Latour while dining at a white-tablecloth restaurant, he doesn’t accept the bottle and instead exclaims, “Ah yes, but no more 1966. Let’s splurge! Bring us some fresh wine! The freshest you’ve got—this year! No more of this old stuff.”
3. The Muppet Movie (1979)
Here comes Steve Martin again. Casted as the insolent waiter who serves Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy a bottle of sparkling Muscatel, he says, “one of the finest wines of Idaho.” In a hilarious mockery of fine wine, the waiter pops the wine’s bottle cap and offers it to Kermit to smell. At the request of Miss Piggy, the faux sommelier reluctantly takes a sip of the 95-cent bottle, spits it out with a horrified grimace and declares the selection “an excellent choice,” before plunking straws into the lovebirds’ wine glasses.
4. The Princess Bride (1987)
There’s no shortage of side-splitting scenes in this classic, but one of the finest comes during the battle of wits, which finds Westley (Cary Elwes) challenging nemesis Vizzini (Wallace Shawn). With The Princess Bride (Robin Wright) blindfolded near his side, Westley dares his rival to guess which of two wine goblets has been poisoned. Unwaveringly confident in his choice, Vizzini announces, “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”—immediately before he keels over and dies.
5. Ratatouille (2007)
French wine abounds in this wonderful film, which follows a rat who longs to cook haute cuisine in Paris. The oenophile characters certainly have good taste: villainous chef Skinner (Ian Holm) employs a bottle of 1961 Château Latour to lure wunderkind chef Linguini (Lou Romano) to share his cooking secrets; and later, restaurant critic Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole) ¬requests of his waiter, “you provide the food, I’ll provide the perspective, which would go nicely with a bottle of Cheval Blanc 1947.” Even a rat knows a top-notch Bordeaux when he sees one.