Bottle Shock: 1976 Was a Good Year for Wine

But the movies? Not so much.

Back from SIFF, this mellow comedic celebration of the California wine country features some handsome young talent (including Rachel Taylor, Eliza Dushku, and Freddy Rodriguez). Bottle Shock is based on true events in 1976, when upstart American labels got their chance against the haughty French in a blind tasting that all—perhaps including the event's sponsor, here played by Alan Rickman—expected the French to win. The movie could've done more with his arch, gourmand-out-of-water character. Any flick that features Rickman—on a road trip in dusty, uncouth, unfamiliar America—disdainfully eating KFC in a yellow AMC Gremlin is a nice rebuttal to wine snobs and movie snobs alike. (Or car snobs, for that matter.) If you're not an oenophile who knows the famous outcome of the tasting, you can guess it anyway. Bill Pullman plays the struggling owner of Napa's Chateau Montelena (just recently sold to the French, in fact). If you have a few bottles of its chardonnay from that bicentennial year in your cellar, they've probably appreciated quite nicely. As for the movie, it's scenic, pleasant, and full of gorgeous aerial vistas sure to inspire a Napa Valley driving-tasting tour. The '70s kitsch aspect adds a little texture, but the movie is fruity and bland, without the sharp adult undertones of Sideways.

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