Sideways (14 years later)

Today marks the 14th anniversary of the release of Sideways, a movie that boasts countless nominations and awards, as well as a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The movie’s success increased the attention and production of California Pinot Noir (a thin-skinned, temperamental grape – much like our protagonist Miles Raymond) , while at the same time partially impacting (already decreasing) Merlot sales due in part to the famous line, “No, if anyone orders merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any f****** merlot!”

The damage done to Merlot by way of markets and the film have finally stabilized as of 2016, but to have had a share on the impact that took 12 years to recover and see growth (finally) is worth duly noting.  But how has the film held up after 14 years?  We seek to answer that question…

Outside of the clothing styles, hair styles, pay phones, square shaped televisions, and vehicle that propels Miles & Jack around on their adventure being a bit dated, the themes of mid-life crisis, post-divorce depression, drunk dialing, and ‘one last time before marriage’ are still culturally relevant today.

You still get the sense that were Miles in a better place in his life, he’d be incredibly fun to geek-out with at a tasting.  His knowledge and execution of wine language, tasting sensibilities, and appreciation for specific vineyards and vintages shows the character has a deep love of wines, albeit rooted in his previous marriage, where the memories of vintages and vineyards meet Vicki.

There is a feeling of jealousy a Pinot (or Syrah) aficionado goes through watching the characters crack vintaged bottles that most people could barely acquire, leave alone afford today.

Miles and Jack are still painful characters to watch in their situation 14 years later as the acting has stood the test of time quite well.

The one strange thing about the film at this age: it doesn’t appear to be as heavily extracted a Pinot, if you will, as it was at the time of release.  Is it because we have been desensitized by the Oregon and California Pinot markets flood post-release?  Is it because Merlot has found its rightful place in the markets now-a-days (as opposed to how flooded the market was at the time)?  We can’t quite put our finger on it, but none the less, the things that make great cinema – believable characters, classic story arch, perfectly integrated soundtrack, great cinematography, and a cliffhanger-ish ending – well…it is very safe to say, like a well cared for bottle of the cameoed Dominique Laurent Les Charmots 1er cru Pommard, the film has aged quite well.

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