Merlot Kicked "Sideways" by Pop Culture

Yet once again American Pop Culture has deemed a fictional movie as expert opinion- the French grape varietal Merlot continues to lose popularity due to it's villianous depiction in the 2004 hit movie "Sideways".  Not only have sales dropped, but every sommelier and waiter ( has a great blog about it) from San Fran to NYC has had to put up with questions and remarks from that same movie.  Now the WCWG has to step in and shed some light on this subject.

As far as the grape varietals lauded (Pinot Noir) and trashed (Merlot and Cabernet Franc) in the movie, all are capable of not just creating great wines and memories, but have strengths and weaknesses.  Learning more and trying them is the key to enjoyment.  I loved Paul Giamatti's portrayal of Miles as much as anyone, but it was still just fiction.  Miles refused to drink Merlot during a funny famous rant and labeled Cab Franc as "insipid" (this is seldom remembered because it wasn't in rant form), but what most do not know is his favorite wine, a bottle of 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc, is made from both varietals.  Use your experts, not the movies. 

Another thing most do not realize about the movie is how the grapes themselves mirror the characters.  Pinot Noir is Miles.  Both are thin-skinned and if given proper care and nurturing can blossom into great products.  Merlot is Jack.  Both are silky and smooth but can be shallow and overmarketed.

The WCWG loves the movie.  The exploration of wine country, the male bonding, and all the laughs are well worth the purchase price.  Wine as a part of culture and beverage has been growing for years but movies such as this have only enhanced it.  Sideways made me want to run to the west coast and live among any of the wine country areas.  A Good Year and Under the Tuscan Sun made me want to fly to Europe and remain making wine and working the land.  Watching 007 James Bond in his tux and reciting his favorite champagne vintages makes any man want to be a spy.  Everyone is searching for the good life and wine can help bring some of it to you.