Top Ten: Wine Moments in the Movies

With the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday, what better time to pop a cork and celebrate some of wines’ finest moments in film! For every Best Actor, Actress, Film or Director there are countless scene-stealing moments when wine has taken centre stage from Hollywood’s big hitters. Editor of Film Juice, Alex Moss, selects the best wine related moments ahead of the Oscars this weekend, so why not follow suit and crack open a bottle yourself…

Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Not the most famous drinking scene of the best Indiana Jones film but easily the most infectious. There is something all too familiar about the way Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and bad guy Belloq (Paul Freeman) knock back countless glasses of something distinctly Grappa looking (claimed to be from the latter’s “family label”) while uncontrollably laughing. Although both characters’ intentions were less than savoury, Steven Spielberg captures the visceral enjoyment of the mutual sharing of a bottle of good wine. The 1981 movie earned an Oscar nomination for John Williams' exhilarating score but Belloq’s homemade plonk was harshly overlooked by the Decanter World Wine Awards.

Silence Of The Lambs
Arguably the most iconic wine reference in movie history and almost certainly the most terrifying, Silence of the Lambs brought an unpalatable new element to wine and food pairings. As the unforgettable Hannibal Lector (Sir Anthony Hopkins) and dedicated FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) trade quips between the former’s glassed prison cell, he indulges her in one of his many brutal cannibalistic stories about how he ate a census taker who had the gumption to upset him…accompanied, of course, by a glass of nice Chianti. Jonathan Demme's chilling, 1991 thriller, was only the third film (following It Happened One Night and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories - Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay - and the first to bring new meaning to a wine’s body and legs...

Withnail & I
Far be it for us to encourage over-drinking but we can’t argue with Richard E. Grant’s unforgettable and much beloved thespian Withnail’s opinion. Upon entering a local tearoom and having found the atmosphere not quite to his debauched liking, the booze riddled waif demands the “Finest wines known to humanity!” It seems you’ve come to the right place old boy. A bit of a slow-burner upon release, Bruce Robinson’s glorious 1987 comedy has since emerged as a bonafide British classic. Wonderfully quotable and notable for one of the late, great Richard Griffiths most memorable roles as Uncle Monty, never has the expression “Hair of the Dog” been more relevant.
The king of wine movies that effortlessly captures how aficionados can become blindly attached to their favourite tipple, Alexander Payne’s critically lauded movie was so popular it actually had a detrimental effect on Merlot sales. Of course, while the neurotic Miles (brilliantly portrayed by Paul Giamatti) might despise all things Merlot, he doesn’t quite bank on being seduced by the delectable Maya (Virginia Madsen) who understands his love affair with wine perhaps better than even he does. Sideways won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress and we would boldly suggest this is the Best film about wine!

The Princess Bride
You know how it goes; you sit down for a picnic over a nice glass of red wine and someone decides to introduce a battle of wits into the equation. Typical. But thankfully in The Princess Bride it makes for one hugely entertaining, perfectly timed scene of comedic brilliance that captures the very essence of Rob Reiner’s wonderfully whimsical 1987 movie. Just remember “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”

Perhaps unfamiliar to some Stoker is a magnificently creepy and chilling film directed by South Korean Park Chan-wook, of Oldboy fame. In his first English-language outing starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman, he produces a stunningly unsettling film and amid the brilliance an excellent wine related moment for us to drink in. The scene in question plays out with a seductive menace, as Charlie (Goode) tempts his seemingly innocent niece India (Wasikowska) into trying wine for the first time. Everyone remembers their first introduction to wine and many of us have an irresponsible uncle, but hopefully none of us have had to endure this baptism of fire. Listen to the sound in the clip below; if that doesn’t get the palate working over-time nothing will.

The Godfather
Harking back to those Sicilians again, it would be remiss of us not to mention the most famous, fictional, one of them all Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). This is a relatively peaceful scene given the dark nature of Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic The Godfather, but its importance was not lost on us oenophiles. As Michael endeavours to pluck up the courage to forsake his strict morality by finally joining the “family business”, capo Clemenza offers up the timely cooking instruction to “add a little wine”. Sage advice indeed. Widely held up as one of the greatest films ever made, The Godfather won three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor for Marlon Brando, and Best Adapted Screenplay and it also shone a welcome light on one of the most beautiful and productive wine regions in the world, Sicily. 

Mr. & Mrs. Smith
There’s no way we can advocate this, but apparently the swiftest way to find out if your wife is a spy is to drop a fine bottle of wine in her close vicinity. At least this is how Brad Pitt managed to do it in the super-sexy Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Suspecting his onscreen wife, Angelina Jolie, of being the enemy he purposefully and, dare we say it, criminally drops a bottle near her which she swiftly catches with ninja-like reactions. Sure, it was a playful and intelligent way to find out the truth, but it could have been a terrible waste of good wine. Although it was a massive box office smash, director Doug Liman's film is probably best remembered for being the movie in which Pitt and Jolie fell in love, and although that might seem tenuous in this context, we can assure you it’s not. The duo released the first vintage of rosé from their $60 million estate, Chateau Miraval, in Provence in 2013 and Decanter Magazine championed their “charmingly pretty” offering for its “mouth-watering finish”.

You know how it goes, wine should be savoured and enjoyed on the nose. But in typical Steve Martin fashion in the romantic comedy, Roxanne, he takes things a little too literally. It’s also proof that those of us who are nasally challenged get dealt a dud hand when it comes to those narrow wine glasses.

Golden Eye
Everyone knows Bond, James Bond, and his obsession with all things shaken and not stirred but he’s more than a little partial to a bit of bubbly too. In fact he’s consumed no less than 12 bottles of Bollinger and eight bottles of Dom Pérignon in his filmic outings. But none of these moments are quite as smooth or better capture Bond’s appeal to the fairer sex than this scene in the 1995 box office smash. The debonair secret agent scares the living daylights out of his very British psychologist with a blistering car race through the hills above Monaco. Having skidded to an almighty halt right on the cusp of a cliff face, Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan in his first outing as Ian Fleming’s iconic character, reveals his classic Aston Martin comes equipped with a pre-chilled bottle of bubbly just ready to blow its cork. License to thrill more like.


Alex Moss is the Editor of FilmJuice, writer of popular web-series Wireless and can be found on Twitter @AlexanderJMoss



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