This was one I missed when it came out. Before “freedom fries,” the last great butting of heads between the U.S. and the French was about [mais qui] wine: “Judgement of Paris.” Bottle Shock (2008) dramatizes how California wines from Napa and Sonoma earned their props in 1976–around the same time Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse was cooking up a French storm using local ingredients in Berkley. Foodie film? Perhaps. And from the very beginning, you know how it’s going to end which is why having a cast that includes Alan Rickman as Steven Spurrier, Bill Pullman as Jim Barrett, and relatively newcomer (at the time) Chris Pine as Bo Barrett was essential to the cultivation.

The landscape scenes are beautiful. But you can tell there were some faux grapes in some of the closeups. Nevertheless, it makes me long for Cali again even more so than Paris. Obviously, the film doesn’t blind taste.

There’s a cute and quick jab at Gallo.

Recommended pairings:
Last Call written by Daniel Okrent. The tag line says it all – the rise and fall of prohibition. Even they took a jab at Gallo. This is not just one of the most thorough tellings of prohibition, but of American populist politics and more attacks on the Constitution. No one’s hands are clean. Or in the words of Pauline Morton Sabin, heiress of the Morton Salt Company, prohibition had become “an attempt to enthrone hypocrisy as the dominant force in the country.” Ken Burns is using this text as the basis for his next PBS event “Prohibition” coming in the fall.

My fried Marsha recommended Todd Kliman‘s The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and Untold Story of American Wine . Todd is the food critic for Washingtonian magazine. In the book, he focuses on the Norton grape considered Americas true grape for winemaking. Thomas Jefferson grew Nortons for his winemaking while George Washington took up the whiskey still. [Sometimes I wonder why it’s called “The Tea Party Movement.” The founding fathers were real lushes.] But I digress. I’ve heard several good reviews written and verbal about Todd’s book and hope to pick it up sometime soon. The Norton is considered America’s oldest wine grape. It was nearly wiped out, not by drought but Prohibition. Today, Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, VA uses the Norton grape for their wines. Virginia has a thing for history. So do I.

BOARDWALK EMPIRE (a new series on HBO)
From the makers of “The Sopranos” and Martin Scorsese. Atlantic City. The 1920s. Prohibition. …I can stop right there. Premieres September 19. Here’s the trailer:

Bottoms Up!