I was watching “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life” the other night, and one scene stuck with me: Mr. Creosote ordering six bottles of Chateau Latour ’45. One of the world’s legendary wines was about to be guzzled by the most disgusting Python character ever created. (He’s the massive glutton who explodes in the middle of a huge meal, in case you’ve forgotten.)
In order to erase that image from my mind, I dialed up “Casablanca” and watched Humphrey Bogart’s Rick sip some fine-looking Champagne, looking tragically elegant as he pined for lost love and better times. Ahh, that’s better.
It got me to wondering about wine in the movies – specifically, which wine has been featured most prominently? I assumed that great French wine would be dominant, since it has assumed a starring role in the industry for centuries.
But to my surprise, the winner is a California upstart. According to winesearcher.com, Clos du Val (a pretty respectable Napa label, but no Chateau Latour) has played a role in no less than five popular films or TV series: “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “21 Grams,” “Sex & The City,” “Knocked Up,” and “Superbad.”
If you allow Champagnes into the competition, then the French win hands down. Classy Dom Perignon, the go-to bubbly for generations of aspirational drinkers, gets some onscreen time in “The Blues Brothers,” “Misery,” and no less than four Bond films: “Dr. No,” “Goldfinger,” “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and “The Spy Who Loved Me.” I’m surprised Bond found the time for any of his famous shaken (not stirred) vodka martinis.
A few wine movies have made certain labels famous for the role they played in the plot. Who can forget Miles’ passion for 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc in “Sideways,” or the iconoclastic role played by Chateau Montelena chardonnay and a few other California wines in “Bottle Shock”? (It’s about the famous Judgment of Paris, when California’s best beat up on France’s in a blind taste test.)
Sexiest wine scene ever? Without a doubt, the late-night moment in “Sideways” when Virginia Madsen’s Maya describes the elusive magic of Pinot Noir to Paul Giamatti’s Miles, who falls instantly in love. At that moment, so did I – with Pinot as well as Maya.
Any great wine scenes I’m forgetting?