Editor’s Note: The below article is part of our ongoing #StayAtHome series, presented to help inform and entertain our readers as we all practice social distancing and take comfort in our homes. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the Foley Food & Wine Society app, to be alerted to new #StayAtHome content when it’s published.
Think about it: most of us have to plan a long time in advance to take a week off, let alone two straight weeks off for vacation, and we always promise ourselves we’re going to catch up on movies we’ve missed over the past year. It never happens. So, looking entirely on the brighter side of our current situation, you really do have time to catch up.
Below are our top six films about wine to watch right now. While the popcorn is popping, start popping those corks.
ALL THREE “SOMM” FILMS
When speaking to crowds, particularly during previous Napa Valley Film Festivals, the director and creator of all three SOMM Films, Jason Wise, often says the same thing: he didn’t want to keep making films about wine—but they called to him. We’re glad he picked up the phone, ahem. If you’ve held off on watching SOMM, or the subsequent two movies, you’re truly missing out. These are well-produced features that tell incredible stories about wine, people, and places.
The first SOMM film debuted in 2013 and tells the story of four sommeliers attempting to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam. Their journey is at times hilarious, heartbreaking, and nerve-racking. You’ll gain a whole new perspective and appreciation for the craft of tasting wine (and memorizing facts about producers and places). If life was a course in wine, this would be required watching for any wine aficionados!
2. SOMM: INTO THE BOTTLE
A radical departure from the first movie, SOMM: Into the Bottle tells the story of wine in 10 chapters. It’s one of the most beautifully shot movies on wine you’ll ever see, and doubles, perhaps accidentally, as one of the greatest “Wine 101” movies of all time. Wise interviews a host of the wine industry’s great personalities, catches up with the somms from the first movie, and explores some of the most storied cellars in the world. If you only watch one SOMM film, this is unquestionably one of our favorites.
3. SOMM 3
It’s best if you’ve put in the work and watched the previous two movies before getting here. However, even if you haven’t you’ll meet three of the wine industries heavyweights and you’ll learn about the incredible story of the 1976 Judgement of Paris Paris tasting—a pivotal event in which California wines beat out top French wines in a blind tasting, with famous French judges handing down the results. In many ways, it set American wine on the path to where the industry is today.
(And if that’s not enough for you, subscribe to SOMM TV and go to town with all kinds of behind-the-scenes footage along with a slew of beautifully shot educational videos, tastings, producer profiles, and features like “Strong Women in Wine & Food.”
4. BOTTLE SHOCK
After you watch SOMM 3 and learn about the real people involved in the 1976 Judgement of Paris (like the famous British wine merchant, author, and grower of English sparkling wine Steven Spurrier), whip up another batch of popcorn and watch this fictionalized version of the events starring Chris Pine, Alan Rickman, and Bill Pullman! This is a classic!!
5. WINE COUNTRY
A little bit of low-brow humor is never really a bad thing, and when movie stars like Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Ana Gasteyer are the ones telling the low-brow jokes—while heftily drinking their way through wine country—it’s okay to let down your guard and have a good laugh. Put the kids to bed, crack out some sparkling wine and let the laughter bubble up.
Watch now: Netflix
6. BLOOD INTO WINE
Maynard James Keenan, the lead singer of the band Tool, makes wine in Arizona. The wines are incredible, and so is Keenan’s story.