Sideways - The Wine Movie

I love movies about wine, and with Sideways we get a movie that is ALL about wine. Released in 2004, Sideways tells of two college friends - Miles and Jack - who head out on a final week of fun before Jack gets married. They head north of Los Angeles to the wine region there - note they are NOT in Napa Valley or Sonoma. Miles is a writer wannabe who adores wine, and feels he will treat Jack to a "perfect week". Jack, however, is more of the sex-and-partying type, and doesn't know anything at all about wine. He would rather glug down something vs examining its fine aroma and flavors.

Disruption of course ensues, as Miles tries to get Jack to sense the inner beauty of wine, while Jack tries to seduce every woman he comes across. Things get tricky when they hook up with a pair of women - Maya and Stephanie - and Jack's cheating threatens to destroy the only relationship Miles has really cared about in years.

Of course, for me a great deal of the enjoyment of this movie is the wine quotes and scenes. There are long discussions about wine, about why wine is so meaningful and how it affects people.

Drinking the Wines

When Miles and Jack first head out, Jack grabs a bottle of Byron bubbly from the case and opens it, despite Miles' protestations that it is too warm. This is a 1992 Byron, really rare, from 100% Pinot Noir. Apparently they don't make it any more, it's made from free run juice. Jack simply glugs it from a goblet, while Miles at least gets a flute. They stop at Miles' mom's and have a red wine there.

The first winery they visit is Sanford, known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Miles goes through the whole 'how to taste' routine, looking at the color, thickness, aroma (of "edam cheese") and then gargling it :) Jack just downs it. Then they go to the Hitching Post in Bien Nacido, a restaurant which serves its own wine. They're told there is a new Bien Nacido wine out. The next morning they have breakfast at Solvang.

They visit the Foxen Winery, where Miles says their estate chardonnay is 'quaffable but far from transcendant' :). Then they go to Kalyra, where Miles just has a field day. He says their cab franc was 'hollow, flabby and overripe'. He then picks on the estate syrah, but Jack says he likes this and gets friendly with the serving wench :). They then walk in the vineyards where Miles talks about having a '95 Opus One with smoked salmon and artichokes on a picnic at Los Olivos. He muses about how the combination wasn't perfect, but the wine was.

Off to dinner with the girls. Miles in full snob mode says "If anyone orders any merlot I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any f@@@ing merlot." Sheesh :) It turns out Maya is drinking a Fiddlehead Sauvignon Blanc that he really likes - aged 12 months in French oak, flavors of clove. Then they go through a series of wines:
* Whitcroft winery 2001 pinot noir
* Sea Smoke Botella
* Kistler Sonoma County
* Pommard 1st Cru

Now back to Stephanie's house. They find a Rieschbourg (Burgundy) in the wine cooler but are told to save that, instead they pull out a M Syrah by Andrew Murray. They open it with a Rabbit opener, I love those things :) Miles tells Maya about his dream wine, a 1961 Cheval Blanc. This is a Bordeaux wine made by blending merlot and cabernet franc grapes. And we thought Miles didn't like those wines :)

Maya says her first best wine was a 1988 Sassicaia - this is an Italian wine made mostly with Cabernet Sauvignon with a hint of Cabernet Franc in it. Then they have a great conversation about why they like wines. Miles says he likes pinot because "It's a hard grape to grow - thin skinned, it ripens early, it's not a survivor. It needs constant care and attention, and can only really grow in these specific tucked away corners of the world." In the end he's talking about himself, really. Maya on the other hand, talks about how a wine is actually alive, constantly growing and evolving, even in the bottle.

A while goes by without wine. Miles has something unnamed in the clubhouse, and a bottle of "MWC" by his nightstand. At the Hitching Post he gets a bottle of Highliner which is a blend of various pinot noir vineyards. You hear about a Bordeaux tasting he could go to - but of course he doesn't.

Now on to the funny scene at "Frass Canyon" which is really Fess Parker. Miles lays into the wines as being "rancid tar bullshit" and then drinks the spit bucket. Then they go off to the A+I Spurs restaurant where Jack gets into more trouble. Then Miles finally does drink his Cheval Blanc with onion rings at the local burger joint.

I went out to the Sideways wine region to take notes and photos - Santa Barbara Winery Reviews and Photos

Wine in Movies and Books

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.