March 20, 2005
James Bond roars across Europe in an Aston-Martin and tens of thousands of people rush to their local car dealer demanding to purchase one just like the one he drove. No? Make that Dr. No and let him mention Dom Perignon ’53 (which he preferred to the doctor’s ’55), and the public rushed their local wineshops demanding the ’53. The same scene is basically repeated in Goldfinger; yet in Thunderball, he goes for the ’55, and in You Only Live Twice, the ’59. Marilyn Monroe was a big fan of the ’53. Various vintages of Bollinger champagne are featured as well… ’69, ’75, ’88, and ’90. The ’34, ’47, and ’55 Chateau Mouton Rothschilds from Bordeaux make their appearances as well. (I won’t get into all the rest, there’s [was, no longer in existence] a great site for James’ drinking habits at Make Mine a 007… I’m only using these to make a point… soon.)
Demi Moore offers Michael Douglas a bottle of ’91 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay in the film Disclosure. Sales of Pahlmeyer wines, and not just the ’91 Chardonnay, rocketed. It became “the” cult wine to get for a short time. Prices were raised.
And now, we have Miles in Sideways proferring pretentious wine advice on Pinot noir, Merlot, and what have you. Sales of Pinot noir have climbed, sales of Merlot have dropped. It will no doubt be temporary. But try getting your hands on the three featured wines in the film. Many retailers and restauranteurs (not to mention the wineries themselves) have raised prices or are doling them out in small quantities. Tourism in Santa Barbara has gone up (well it is beautiful).
I won’t go on and on, though it’s possible to, I’d rather get to my point. Starting back from my opening line, the point comes down to… hey folks, it’s a movie. Some scriptwriter wrote it. Some director directed it. Actors were given scripts and lines to say. In many cases some winery, or at least their marketing company, horror of horrors, shockingly, paid for the product placement!
Now, I’m not disparaging the tastebuds of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Demi Moore, Michael Douglas or Paul Giamatti, or anyone else who appears in a movie. I haven’t a clue. I haven’t gone out to dinner with any of them. Some of them might have amazing palates when it comes to wine. But here’s a little secret…
Sean Connery did not personally recommend to you that you go out and buy 1953 Dom Perignon. Really, he didn’t. Paul Giamatti may play the pretentious wine snob well, but he did not personally recommend that you run out and buy Hitching Post’s Highliner Pinot noir, Sea Smoke’s Botella Pinot Noir, or Fiddlehead Cellars’ Sauvignon Blanc. Really, he didn’t either. And without knowing their personal tastes, even if they had, why would you run out to buy it?
Nonetheless, “the herd instinct is strong,” as someone posted on one of the wine geek websites.
Now, I have to get back to explaining to my trekkie customers that the 2265 Dom Perignon (opening sequence of Star Trek VII: Generations) won’t be produced, if at all, for another 260 years… and no, I cannot get them a sample bottle…
I started writing food & wine columns for the Outlet Radio Network, an online radio station in December 2003. They went out of business in June 2005.