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January 4th, 2017

For many, a new year brings resolutions and aspirations of fitness and a life without wine, or maybe just a few weeks to a few months. However, it is true that gym memberships skyrocket and wine sales plummet. For those who intend to let their passion for wine temporarily go by the wayside, we’d like to offer some winter-season cinematic entertainment around all things wine.

During these dark, cold months of winter, void of wine, there are some entertaining movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime that will keep your interest pouring over the immense world of wine. Out of the plethora of Hollywood films and documentaries, here are couple of favorites from both genres.

As always, Hollywood delivers with great drama and entertainment value. Perhaps the two most renowned films are “Bottleshock” and “Sideways.”

“Bottleshock” stars Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Chris Pine and Dennis Farina in a comedic re-creation of the famous Paris Wine Tasting of 1976. The story begins with Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman), a small wine shop owner in Paris, who embarks on a quest to bring the unknown California wines from Napa Valley into a blind tasting against their French counterparts. At the time, California was in its infancy of viticulture and was unknown outside the United States. It is a must-see comedy/drama film based loosely on history.

“Sideways” was released in 2004 and features Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church as two men who venture on a weeklong road trip through Santa Ynez Valley. A comedy with a few dark moments, this classic is remarkable and well worth watching. The release of this feature actually had a great deal of influence over two of California’s most famed grape varietals, merlot and pinot noir.

These Hollywood films are fun, charming and certainly entertaining. For those looking for more substance, “Somm” and “Mondovino” are educational and intriguing documentaries that reveal the inside of the industry.

“Somm,” a 2013 documentary, showcases four candidates in their attempt to pass the extremely difficult Master Sommelier exam. This eye-opening film follows the timeline leading up to the final exam and portrays the struggles of two candidates, their families and partners. Daunting, funny and painful, this documentary shows viewers the difficulty of the Court of Master Sommeliers program. The sequel, “Somm: Into the Bottle,” takes on the bigger picture of wine itself and outlines the processes and costs of how wine is made. The sequel helps viewers understand why some wines fetch higher prices than others.

“Mondovino” (Italian for “World of Wine”) is both a 10-part series and a film condensed into just over two hours. While you can choose the condensed version, it’s advisable to watch the entire series on Amazon Prime for a more comprehensive experience. Filmed in 2004, this project demonstrates the impact of globalization on the world of wine, the impacts of wine critic Robert Parker and winery consultant Michel Rolland, and the divide between multinational wine producers and small production estate wineries. A controversial endeavor from American filmmaker and sommelier Jonathan Nossiter, the film follows him as he spends several years in seven countries shooting on a hand-held Sony PD-15 digital camcorder. It definitely doesn’t have Hollywood production values,  but due to the feel and gravity of the topics portrayed, this series is vital for any aspiring aficionado or wine professional.