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Best booze flicks for lockdown weekend

Published:  27 March, 2020

One week into lockdown, and you’ve exhausted all of Netflix ‘recommended for you’ offerings and are missing the world of wine. So why not kill two birds with one stone and stream a film about booze?


The most recent addition to the canon, uncorked dropped on Netflix at the end of March. It follows the tale of Elijah, a young African American man whose father thinks he’s going to take over the family’s Memphis rib shack. Elijah, however, prefers Burgundy to barbecue and enrols to become a master sommelier. You get some of the flavour of the stress involved in studying for the MS, but essentially this is a story of conflict: of father versus son, of learning versus stagnation, of dreams versus duty. I’m not entirely sure it’s a ‘wine film’ but there are some good one-liners – ‘I want to become a sommelier’, ‘What is that, a pirate?’, ‘That’s a Somalian.’ And its messages will resonate with anyone who’s come into wine from outside, or felt the faint frisson of parental disapproval at their career choice. 


A kind of ‘road trip with reds’ there’s no greater praise for Sideways than saying it’s one of the few wine films that you can watch with non-professionals: warm, funny and pithy – and Paul Giamatti is typically brilliant. Scoring 97% on Rotten Tomatoes film rating site, it’s a single-handed paeon to the joy of Pinot Noir and a takedown of Californian Merlot from which the latter’s growers are only just recovering. Fifteen years old now, but bears repeat watching.

The Somm Trilogy

It’s hard to know why the Somm trilogy works, but it does. The first film at least had an element of narrative drama to it – following three driven somms going through the stress of trying to pass the Master Sommelier exam. But the next two are more rambles through the world of wine: educational, stimulating, sometimes controversial. It’s perfect lockdown fodder – and, just like The Godfather trilogy, you can argue with your friends about which is best.

The Amber Light

On one hand, this film will teach you a lot about whisky. But really The Amber Light is a love-song to the inextricable way in which the drink is both enshrined in and representative of Scottish culture. Whisky guru Dave Broom is an entertaining and perceptive presenter, his affection for his subject is obvious, his expertise unquestionable. You’ll want to pour yourself a nip as you’re watching. Guaranteed.

Barolo Boys. The Story of a Revolution.

In 1983 Elio Altare destroyed his family’s barrels with a chainsaw. This, he thought, was not what Barolo should be about – and with some like-minded ‘rebel boys’ set about changing what the wine could be. It’s a boisterous story of drive and determination, a battle between the forces of ‘tear-it-up’ change and ‘preserve it’ tradition. And the scenery ain’t half bad either.

Bottle Shock

You’ll have heard of the Judgement of Paris - the 1976 blind tasting of world experts that pitted California’s finest wines against those of France – so it’s no spoiler to confirm that the former came out on top. This ‘Californian wine comes of age’ film is, frankly, cheesy as hell, but there’s a nice 1970s feel to it and the incongruous thrill of seeing Chris Pratt in a blond frightwig and Alan Rickman playing Steven Spurrier never palls.