Wednesday, May 11, 2005


We had the pleasure of watching Sideways a couple weeks ago, ironically while enjoying a bottle of merlot (Beringer, 2000).

"If anyone orders merlot, I'm leaving. I am not drinking any fucking merlot."

I hadn't realized before watching the film that it was a stigmatized grape.

This article comes to its defense.

The film was a joy, the acting impeccable, and the soundtrack groovy. Even if the wine pourer did tip out different tastes into the same glass.

The passion for wine was real and unpretentious. It's not about the dinner parties or the status. One couple shares their wine stories — the lightbulb moments, when bottles burst with life and emotional flavour, when they realized wine could be something special. (I'm jealous of such epiphanies.) More than a hobby, good wine becomes a fervent pursuit.

I have had a couple memorable wine experiences — in particular, late-summer Boston, an outdoor lunch of pasta with grilled vegetables, and a fumé blanc (coincidentally also a Beringer).

I enjoy tastings, in private homes or in vineyards. I've been told by some oenophiles that I have a nose. For their benefit, I delight in swishing the liquid about my mouth and making slightly odd proclamations: Canteloupe! Mushrooms! Coriander! They nod in surprised agreement and with respect.

However, I've come to realize that for me what makes a wine special is its context, the event of it, an elusive collusion of elements, rather than the wine itself.

"Get drunk," wrote Baudelaire. Just drink the wine, taste it — really taste it — and enjoy the film.

"It is time to get drunk!"
If you do not want to be the martyred slaves of Time, get drunk, always get drunk!
With wine, with poetry or with being good.
As you please.


Anonymous said...

There are certain films that make me "crave": crave love, crave travel, adventure. Sideways made me crave a glass of wine. In a similar way, another movie I love - Smoke - makes me crave a cigarette. These days I refrain from smoking, but I will drink a glass or two of wine. In a way, these movies (amongst other attributes) are meditations on substances that can harm as well as enhance life. Sideways, as has happened to many others, has influenced me to sharpen my palette.

Ben said...

I laughed about the merlot thing when I saw it. Living here in Oz melot is quite an exotic red variety, distinct from the cabsavs and shiraz we're awash with over here. It wasn;t until I visited Nappa and Sonoma that I realised that merlot must seem pretty ho-hum to your average American.