Wine has a certain panache and sophistication in both the production process and the final product. This layer of elegance has a certain romantic tinge to it, and the winemaking process always has this erudite charm that makes it quite fascinating. In addition, a glass of wine can automatically bring a specific emotion from people. As such, wine and the method of winemaking have been used as the backdrop for several films throughout the years.
This article will be looking at the best movies that center around various vin de pays, winemakers, and the winemaking industry in general. This list is for all of you wine lovers looking to satisfy your oenophilia.
Best Movies for Wine Lovers
1. Uncorked (2020)
Let us start with a relatively new film released in 2020 called Uncorked. This film is a family drama currently available for streaming on Netflix. In the movie, a young man named Elijah (played by Mamoudou Athie) is at a cross-road in his life and torn between his passion and his family.
Elijah is an aspiring master sommelier whose dreams are put on hold because his father wants him to inherit their family barbecue business. This puts a strain on their relationship and the family, as Elijah must choose between his dreams and his responsibility to his family.
The film shines a vivid spotlight on the level of commitment one must offer to expand their wine knowledge. At the core of this film, though, it is all about the challenges of juggling your passion that simply does not mix well with your responsibilities. That’s a conundrum that everyone has gone through once or twice in their life, making Uncorked quite a relatable film for wine enthusiasts.
The film was exclusively shot in Memphis, Tennessee, and has a solid overall review. While it may not hit all the marks for average moviegoers, it will undoubtedly strike a chord with wine lovers. Uncorked offers a closer peek at the inner workings of the sommelier industry.
Duration: 1 h 43 min
2. You Will Be My Son (2011)
Let’s go from one wine movie drenched in a heartwarming family drama to one that has a harder edge and intensity to it. You Will Be My Son is a French film about the complicated relationship between father and son over the backdrop of their picturesque French vineyard, which was shot in Saint Emilion at the Chateau Clos Flouret.
The father, Paul de Marseul (played with impeccable antagonistic fervor by Niles Arestrup), is an old winemaker in the twilight of his years. The man is absolutely detestable towards his son, Martin (Lorant Deutsch), who wants nothing more than his father’s approval. However, Paul does not see Martin as a worthy heir to his kingdom (his vineyard) and prefers Martin’s friend, Philippe Amelot.
Philippe (Nicolas Bridet) has all the traits that Paul wanted a worthy son to have; he is decisive, charismatic, and has an eye for winemaking. So, the intense father and son relationship goes on a downward spiral as the film goes on with little hope of salvation for the two. You Will Be My Son is a classic Greek tragedy tale, and director Gilles Legrand manages to contain the somewhat melodramatic plot into one intense melancholic film.
Duration: 1 h 42 min
3. A Good Year (2006)
A Good Year is a 2006 romantic comedy film directed by Ridley Scott and starring award-winning actors Russel Crowe and Marion Cotillard. In the movie, Crowe plays British investment banker Max Skinner, who has a callous and cutthroat approach to his career and life in general.
His frantic and routine city life is disturbed when he inherits his uncle’s vineyard in Provence, France (where the movie was also shot). Skinner goes to his uncle’s vineyard with no intention of actually inheriting the winery but plans on selling it as soon as possible.
However, while staying in his newly inherited vineyard, Skinner remembers his youth running around and playing in the scenic French winery. This flood of memories starts giving Max doubts about his current life trajectory.
As he stays longer in Provence and the more people he meets there, his entire life philosophy is called into question. Max will now need to decide what and where his future will be. Will he return to the city and to his banking job that has financial stability, or take a risk and go for personal growth and satisfaction?
For wine lovers, this film will undoubtedly brighten up your day. It is an upbeat romantic comedy that goes through all the standard beats of the genre but will certainly hold the attention of wine enthusiasts.
Duration: 1 h 57 min
4. Bottle Shock (2008)
Bottle Shock is an indie-drama comedy film directed by Randall Miller about the fictional account of the 1976 wine competition called ‘The Judgment of Paris.’ This film features a cavalcade of fantastic actors like Chris Pine, Bill Pullman, and the late Alan Rickman.
In the film, Rickman plays Paris-based master sommelier Steven Spurrier who heads to America to find a local vino that he will use for a blind wine tasting back in France. Passing through Napa Valley, the rather snobbish Spurrier is surprised to find a winery that produces top-notch wine.
Determined to bring this fantastic discovery back to France, Spurrier requests the father and son owner of the winery (played by Bill Pullman and Chris Pine) to come with him and present their wine to the world. What happens next is a classic Davis VS Goliath battle where the underdog Californian winemakers prove themselves to be on par with the very best (and arrogant) French master winemakers.
Everybody loves an inspiring underdog tale, right? Bottle Shock is just that with an interesting look at the passionate rivalries within the winemaking industry.
Duration: 1 h 50 min
5. A Walk in the Clouds (1995)
A Walks in the Clouds is a romantic period drama film that stars a pre-Neo Keanu Reeves as World War 2 veteran Paul Sutton. Set in California, Sutton arrives home after the end of WW2 to his wife, Betty Sutton (played by Debra Messing). However, their marriage becomes strained due to Paul suffering from PTSD due to the war. To keep his mind off the horrors he experienced, he decides to go to Sacramento to find a job. This is where the element of wine comes into play in the movie.
While looking for a job, a chance meeting with Victoria Aragon thrusts Paul into the winemaking scene in Napa Country. After a tussle with two men accosting Victoria, Paul learns that the young woman is pregnant and her university professor is the father. Also learning about her traditionalist family upbringing, Paul offers to pose as her husband to save her from her father’s anger.
This decision sets a somewhat tumultuous yet beautiful relationship between the two broken individuals. The film is shot in Napa Valley, California, and is a remake of the 1942 Italian film Four Steps in the Clouds. This is a classic love story set in the charming backdrop of a post-WW2 Napa Valley vineyard.
Duration: 1 h 42 min
6. Year of the Comet (1992)
Year of the Comet is a romantic comedy adventure movie that revolves around a young master sommelier Margaret Harwood (Penelope Ann Miller), who is tasked to deliver an ultra-rare wine bottle to France. Margaret’s father, Sir Mason Harwood (played by the late great Ian Richardson), is a wine connoisseur who came into possession of a rare vintage wine dated during the Great Comet of 1811.
Margaret is also accompanied by bodyguard Oliver Plexico (Tim Daly, a fan-favorite actor best known as the voice of Clark Kent/Superman in the award-winning animated series), who is certainly rough around the edges. With the two having nothing in common, you can bet they start off on the wrong foot. But, of course, true to the Hollywood formula, opposites attract as Margaret and Oliver start developing feelings for one another.
However, this won’t be a simple delivery job for the two as other players are in play who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the extremely rare wine bottle. The notion of a one-of-a-kind wine will certainly interest wine lovers, and the film is undoubtedly a fun romantic adventure romp that is perfect for a couple’s night with wine in hand.
Duration: 1 h 31 min
7. The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)
One of the true classics for wine movies is director Stanley Kramer’s The Secret of Santa Vittoria. This film is set during World War 2 after the fall of Benito Mussolini and just as the German forces entrenched themselves throughout Italy. The film tells the story of the small vineyard town, Santa Vittoria, and its unlikely mayor, the drunkard Italo Bombolini.
As the small town discovers that the Nazis are coming to steal their prized wine export, Bombolini, along with the townsfolk, tries to pull a fast one over the invaders by giving them a generous amount but hiding most of their fine wine. However, the Nazi Captain von Prum notices that the villagers are not giving them all of their wine and sets out to find the remaining ones by hook or crook.
Despite the film releasing back in 1969, it still holds up to this day and is certainly a must-watch for all wine enthusiasts. It is an enthralling story of camaraderie amidst the trial and tribulations during the time of war and, of course, fantastic wine.
Duration: 2 h 19 min
8. Sideways (2004)
Quite possibly the most popular mainstream movie about wine on this list, this hit comedy-drama from 2004 is sure to be present in every wine lover’s film collection. The movie is about two friends whose life and career are up in the air. The film revolves around Jack (Thomas Haden Church), an actor whose glory days are undeniably right behind him, and his friend Miles (Paul Giamatti), a struggling writer and wine enthusiast who is also suffering from depression.
About a week before Jack gets to tie the knot, the two friends decide to go on a wine country trip for one last hurrah and enjoy a week of wine drinking. The film is carried by Jack and Miles’ odd-ball relationship as the two’s personalities can’t be further apart, yet they are pretty much the best of friends.
The film was a surprise hit in 2004, and despite appearing like a light-hearted comedy road movie, Sideways is, in fact, a character study about depression, friendship, midlife crises, love, and wine drinking, of course.
Duration: 2 h 7 min