Wine is one of cinema’s most important props and has been used as a key plot device in many films.
In this article we look at five scenes in film where wine has either been the main topic or played an important part in the narrative.
1. Whitnail and I
Arguably one of cinema’s finest speeches featuring wine is when Richard E. Grant’s character tells a teashop owner that “we want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here and we want them now.”
An interesting note is that while Richard E. Grant’s character is one of cinema’s most famous drunks, yet the actor in real life is allergic to alcohol. According to About Film, the actor has only been drunk once. This was when the director of Whitnail and I insisted that he get legless to prepare for the role.
Film has the power to change lives. It can also apparently change wine tastes and affect sales.
The main character of the film played by Paul Giamatti is a wine connoisseur who often makes statements on why Pinot Noir is the greatest wine. Decanter.com reported that sales of Pinot Noir rocketed after the film with an increase of 16% the following year. Sideways has many great scenes about wine including the famous “I’m not drinking Merlot,” but the scene where Giamatti’s character explains his love of Pinot Noir really shows why wine lovers can create a strong bond to particular wines.
3. The Princess Bride
The poisoned chalice is a common plot device used in many films. Arguably the most iconic poisoned chalice scene is the battle of the wits in The Princess Bride. In order to save the princess, the man in black must outwit her captor by challenging him to guess which of the two wines is poisoned.
The hapless captor’s comic deductions include trying to establish whether the poison’s Australian origin has had any factor in which glass the poison is in. The scene is considered to be one of cinema’s sharpest comedic scenes.
4. A Good Year
The opening scene of the Ridley Scott film depicts Albert Finney explaining the merits of wine making to his young nephew: “I enjoy making wine, because this sublime nectar is quite simply incapable of lying.”
The scene not only sets up the key relationship in the film but is also a good description of why wine making is so appealing.
The film’s main star is Russell Crowe and it marked the second time that he had worked with Ridley Scott after Gladiator. A Good Year is a much smaller and personal film than Gladiator but certainly helped Crowe’s stock. While the critically acclaimed Gladiator (2000) brought Crowe a lot of success as well as grossing $457 million worldwide, according to Forbes, it also reaped dividends from ventures into the digital arena with successful franchises such as the Gladiator game featured on UK gaming site Betfair. Since the Gladiator film, Crowe has gone on to star in major blockbusters such as Noah, Les Misérables and Man of Steel.
5. From Russia With Love
How does the perfect enemy spy almost give his identity away?
By ordering red wine with fish. The spy played by Robert Shaw manages to trick James Bond and knock him out after posing as an English agent leading Bond to say the classic line: “red wine with fish, now that should have told me something.” The train scene is considered the greatest scenes in Bond’s cinematic history.