Movie review: Bottle Shock

We connoisseurs enjoy a good film as much as the next cinema-goer, and it’s ever so much of a pleasure to find a quality film that happens to be centered around wine. Well, if we haven’t found just the ticket!

This one’s a few years old, but an absolute corker, if you’ll pardon the expression. Yet it remains utterly delightful, especially as it offers an opportunity to see the much-missed Alan Rickman in one of his best comedic roles.

He plays a snobbish English wine merchant living in Paris in the years when Californian wine was beginning to see real popularity. Aghast, he travels to the USA to investigate, and ends up butting heads with the bright, cheerful winemakers of the Valley.

 

You also get to know the passionate young winemakers in the family operations who are trying to better their parent’s vintages, including a latino worker who says he can taste his heritage in their terroir, which is borne out by his extraordinary skills.

 

In the end, Rickman’s character comes up with a challenge, which really took place, of a blind taste test between Californian winemakers and the French masters, in which the Californians claimed top honors, to the astonishment of all. It’s good fun, and quite emotionally satisfying as well.

The absolute best scene, for all of the emotion and narrative joy of the rest of the film, is surely watching Rickman bite gingerly into a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken by the side of the highway.

 

The film is on Netflix at last account, and is on wide release in most countries. We’re utterly stupefied as to why it didn’t garner more praise or attention when it first came out: it’s truly wonderful, especially for the wine-loving film connoisseur.

New developments in the wine world

As always, nothing gets better over time than wine! There’s never been a better time to be a connoisseur of viticulture, between the ever-growing variety of wines on the market and the ever-larger body of research to help those who care take care of their wines with even more finesse.

Here are a few exciting developments in the wine world right now that we think you ought to be kept abreast of!

 

After years of living with the image of sleazy college parties emblazoned firmly on its name, boxed wine has come into its own. Thus, we’re now starting to use an entirely new phrase… high-end boxed wine! The latest boxes have preservation qualities that rival glass, and even better it in the way that they keep light from destroying tannins. Boxed wine has also been boosted by the drive to preserve cork trees by eliminating the traditional wood corks we’ve all loved for so long. Indeed, we’ve tasted many fine wines from Australia and South America which arrived in quite unassuming boxes. You may have a stigma at first, which is understandable (after all, any number of terrible wines are still to be found in boxes). However, the view from our decanter is that boxed wine has an exciting and promising future ahead of it: something we never thought we’d be caught saying.

 

With the rise of BirchBox and other high-end subscription services for necessaries, toiletries, or makeup products, not to mention fashion and food boxes, it has finally arrived, ladies and gentlemen: the wine subscription. Yes, you’ve heard correctly, boxed wine can now be delivered to your door on a monthly basis, with some of the finest, award-winning wines as part of the scheme. What more could you want? Of course, trusting your local delivery men to treat your merlots with care may be one unforeseen complication. All that said, there’s very little that’s gotten us as excited as the prospect of subscription wine of the finest caliber. Cheers to that!

 

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The last development we think is worth mentioning is something of a long-term trend, but this past year has seen a noticeable shift. Energy-saving coolers have been on the rise, and we’ve never paid a terribly large amount of attention until now. You see, the latest coolers use LED lights to save on electricity, but there’s another massive benefit: these lights don’t damage wines. They also produce next to no heat, so you don’t have to worry about what might happen to the bottle closest to the bulb. We’re hard-pressed to think of a downside, really, so do consider buying an energy-saver next time you upgrade your cooling system.

Keeping a good wine store at home, using the best wine coolers, compendiums, and accessories

As any aspiring wine snob knows, starting to collect your own wine store at home can be a daunting prospect. There’s the wine, to star, but then there’s all the storage techniques, tools, and accessories to learn. If you don’t get it right, you risk ruining bottles of the nicest vintages.

 

We’ve all been there, and in this blog post, we’re going to help all you new wine collectors to get on your feet and running confidently.

 

Let’s run through all the key elements of a good wine store, and the role they each play in keeping your operation smooth.

 

The first thing to sort out is how you’ll be storing wines.

 

If you’re dealing with vintages that need some time on the rack (and most of us will be for most of our bottles), you’ll have to acquire a wall rack. The bigger the better, since your collection will only grow over time, and you never want to be limited by your rack space. Buy the largest rack you can fit, depending on your space. The best places to install them tend to be cellars, attics, and entryways, anywhere dim and cool on a consistent basis.

 

For the bottles that require cooler climes, or for the vittles most ready to be drunk, you shall require a wine cooler. Much different  than a fridge, to be sure, a wine cooler will help you keep your clinkers at a precise temperature. We humbly suggest that you invest in a dual-compartment cooler in order to adequately treat both your whites and reds with equal and appropriate care.

 

Now you’re really ready to acquire some wines. Huzzah! Before you bring any bottle into storage, you should know it inside and out. Learn all about its character, terroir, and vintage. Know the grapes inside it, know what sort of temperature it will prefer.

 

The key to all this expert knowledge is to have a reputable wine book on hand to consult whenever you come across something new. Our favorite remains “Wine” by Hugh Johnson–something of a classic these days, but still unsurpassed in sheer breadth of scope and especially wit. Hugh will tell you all you need to know to keep your head under control, as it were!

 

Depending on the character and age of your bottles, you’ll need to keep them properly distributed between the cooler and the rack.

 

Aha! Now we have it: the serving of the wines!

 

Serving is a tricky beast to master. Wines are devilishly tricky to get to the glass without compromise, but here’s where your accessories come to hand.

 

First, you shall require a decanter: crystal, and only crystal, will do for decanting your wines. Remember that your decanter is the mouthpiece of all your wines, the veritable font from which they shall issue to the glasses of your guests. It must be stunning without being pompous. Choose it wisely, and decant all your bottles before serving!

 

To get the wine from the bottle to the decanter, one must have an easy, elegant, and ergonomic bottle opener. A true connoisseur would never stoop to using an electric de-corker, but neither would they be seen tugging and shaking a bottle willy-nilly. Opt for something simple but sturdy, with lots of torque. Stainless steel makes for an elegant, long-lasting tool.

 

As you will learn as you delve into wine lore, each variety is best served in a specific design of glassware. That’s why you shall need a range of glasses: something for your chianti, something else for your merlot.

 

When the evening is over, be sure to have a good wine-saver to preserve the rest of the bottle for the next. Wine-savers are much better than re-corking the bottle, and they look a good deal more elegant. Corks tend to disintegrate steadily after the first pull, and they’ll never be quite airtight again.

 

Voila! There you have it. Come and crush a cup of wine, as Shakespeare might say! If you’re more of a beer guy than a wine guy, you’ll take interest in the best beer fridge models.