See SIDEWAYS, Drink Wine

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from Fox Searchlight Pictures asking if I would promote “Sideways” on my site. All my integrity as a foodblogger was called into question. Would I really become a shill for the studio system, compromising everything I hold near and dear? Would I take another fat check like the one I took from McDonald’s earlier this week?

Sure I would!

After all, I’m an enormous fan of Alexander Payne (the co-writer/director). His “Election” is one of my all-time favorite movies. So here’s one of the pictures the studio sent me for you to be promoted by. I kind of like it because it has a behind-the-scenes sort of edge. Unless this was only for me to see and not to post in which case the picture you are looking at is ILLEGAL:

Now, as for the movie, it was really great. I don’t lie when it comes to art (it is what I am most passionate about) so I would tell you if I thought it was crap. It’s far from it. It’s a very careful, very throughtful character study and tour through the Napa Valley. For us Amateur Oenophiles, the movie offers many insights into how to drink and enjoy wine. Miles (the protagonist) has a passion for it that mirrors the passions that lead many of us to blog about food. It’s a dangerous passion because it invests a great deal of energy and emotion into something that is disposable. Makes me think of lines from “Sunday in the Park with George”:

George: I care about many things.

Dot: Things. Not people.

[Sorry for the pretentious block-quoting.] I’m probably over seriousizing the movie. “Sideways” is also a lot of fun. There are great comic sequences that I won’t spoil. And though the movie moves slowly, I was never bored. It takes its time. And the characters are richly drawn and charming, despite some of their flaws. I am so glad they cast Paul Giamatti in this part—he plays a great, honest leading man. Thomas Haden Church reminds me of many people I know–the lovable sociopath. Virginia Madsen is luminous; Sandra Oh has a great energy and presence. I wish they hadn’t spoiled her blow-up scene in the previews.

The best thing about “Sideways” is that when it’s over you have a wonderful excuse to drink wine. When we got out at 12:30, Lisa, Kirk and I (Ricky had gone to work) roamed the city looking for a wine bar. Instead, we found a Restaurant, Bar, Lounge in Chelsea. We sat down in cozy chairs and tried to order a bottle of Pinot like Miles in the movie.

“Ahhh,” said the wiater, “we’re all out of pinot tonight.”

So we settled on Sauvignon Blanc—2003, Old Hollow—and appropriately from California. Honestly, we had no idea what we were doing (ordering wine) but we had fun doing it. Here’s our bottle:


We went through all the requisite wine-movements as dictated from the movie (the swirling, the holding to the light, the sniffing) and then finally drank. I found the wine a little too fruity—it has hints of apple in it.

“Are you kidding?” asked Kirk, before tasting his. But after tasting his he agreed, “There are hints of apple in it.”

Two glasses later, I had that tingling wine feeling. You know the feeling? It’s like a heater in your body slowly being turned on. It felt nice. We walked home merrily and roughed up some homeless people. Soon, we parted ways and reflected on our happy evening of movie-seeing and wine-drinking. I recommend you do the same! (And not just because I’m being paid off…)

5 thoughts on “See SIDEWAYS, Drink Wine”

  1. As Martha would say, a great sauvignon blanc is a good thing. Look for those from New Zealand: they tend to be flinty and grapefruity and are wonderful in the summer (or whenever). Also, I highly recommend Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc. You can usually find it at Whole Foods or The Fresh Market. Cin Cin!

  2. Fess up, now. How fat was the cheque from Fox Searchlight?

    I suppose there’s nothing wrong with being paid to write (hell, I do it) but somehow I want blogdom to remain pure.

  3. ACK! It was the Santa Ynez Valley, Adam, not Napa. I wouldn’t be sensitive, but I live about 20 minutes north of there. :-) The Santa Ynez Valley is in Santa Barbara County, about three hours north of LA and four hours south of San Francisco.

    I saw Sideways in a small art theatre full of people who knew every location on screen, from the windmills in Solvang to the Sanford tasting room in Buellton.

    And my husband and I immediately went out for wine, too. Pinots in this area are amazing. I will send you some excellent California Pinot Noir if you share it and put the pictures up! :-)


  4. Yeah, SLOLindsay has it right. It’s the Santa Ynez Valley, no Santa does not live there, although that might explain the red nose. SLOLindsay must live in San Luis Obispo area, which is another wine region out this way called the Edna Valley. SLOLindsay, drop me a note if you can.

    Yes, a great flick, wine geeks, buddy flick, coming-of-middle-age type deal. What’s not to like.

  5. I would really like to find out the name of the wine opener used in the movie in the scene where the waitress opens a bottle of wine for the guy(s).

    It looked like a rabbit but larger.

    Maybe I will need to see this wonderful movie again to get a better fix on it or can you help?

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