Jack: “If they want to drink merlot, we’re drinking merlot.”
Miles: “No, if anyone orders merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking merlot!”
Poor merlot. Thanks to that memorable snippet of dialogue from “Sideways,” no one seems to want to drink it anymore.
“Merlot’s been on the decline for awhile, but this film’s really pushed it off the cliff,” says Jenny Bergstrom, a rep for distributor Strange Wines.
On the flip side, praise for obscure varieties of pinot noir, cabernet and syrah in “Sideways” from Paul Giamatti‘s Miles and Virginia Madsen‘s Maya has sparked sales of those wines.
“Wine geeks run away from mass-produced wines like merlot and chardonnay because they tend to be so boring with no varietal character,” Bergstrom says. “Merlot’s meant to be a blending grape, so the dialogue is absolutely truthful. Now everyone wants the chic boutique stuff.”
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She also notes that wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley, where most of “Sideways” was shot, had already seen an upsurge in recent months but are now bracing for even more, thanks to the pic’s five Oscar noms.
Fox Searchlight was ahead of the curve. As part of its promotional materials for the pic, the studio included custom maps of the area, spotlighting key sites the wine-loving characters visit.