I have had some spare time lately and decided to go back and watch a few wine and food related films. This has been a fun way to armchair travel the world of wine and stretch my brain at the same time. So I figured why not share my favorites with you ? Ultimately wine is about taste but what adds to the context is the people and the place. Also understanding the back story about a particular practice or ritual in wine can create a deeper understanding of the forces at work that create a wine culture . All types of wine are needed for a wine culture to survive from basic vin de table to super collectible wines. Here is my top three list of favorite wine films:
This documentary was released in 2004 and is a snapshot into impending globalization of wine and some of the possible consequences . There is a discussion of generational changes in wine making that touch on the transition in Hubert Montille’s winery and the shifting public taste in wine from Volnay and the role that gender plays in succession. Hubert passed away ten years later. There is a section focused on Michelle Rolland that focuses on his influence in wine making around the world and the Parkerization of wine. Also an interview with the Mondavi family and their planned expansion into France and what that might mean. A portion of the film spends some time with Robert Parker. There is a hilarious scene with his dog that I’m not going to spoil. A lot has happened in the time between the films release and now so it’s interesting to see what they got right and what has happened to a number of these pivotal players in the wine world.
There are two major wine qualifications available for people who are interested in a non-production related carreer . Master of Wine or Master Sommelier . This movie follows 4 industry professionals along the path towards the Master Sommelier Exam and the mentorship provided by some notable Icons of the wine world most notably a gentleman named Fred Dame . Fred was the first non European to lead the Court of Master Sommeliers and the first person to pass all three parts of the Master Sommelier exam in a single year . There is a fine line between competency , deep knowledge and obsession and these 4 candidates cross the line back and forth many times. By the end you are vested in the experience and interested in the outcome. Not what you expect. And the description of a wine smelling like a tin off freshly opened tennis balls is cringe worthy and hilarious all in one.
About this time you are probably wondering if I’m going to write about Sideways. Well I’m not I’m going to go farther back and reference a piece of fiction.
From Amazon.ca “ Released in 1987, Babette’s Feast is a film which depicts so little, yet says so much. Set in a rural Danish community, it centres around the twin sisters of
the village pastor and the French women who serves them after fleeing the 1871 revolution. On winning the lottery she plans a feast to mark the centenary of the sisters’ father, bringing a dimension of fine living into the lives of the God-fearing Lutherans and healing festering personal animosities in the process. “ I love this film in it’s spare quiet delivery and the meaning of sharing food and wine and the deeper symbolism of what it means to cook for people. It’s also about the ability of food to bridge the gaps of social division . Cooking and sharing a meal is not just about fuel for your body ( although it can be) It’s also an expression of caring and love for your fellow humans. This film shows how much emotion and gratefulness can be expressed simply by the attention you pay your food and it’s presentation. Lovely sentiment and a restrained message.
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