Nectar of the Gods

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Before jumping into today’s blog topic, let me just take a moment to congratulate you, fans. You have once again proven your passion for your favorites in movies, music and TV by casting more votes (a LOT more) on the first day of pre-nomination voting than ever before! Kudos – your passion is unparalleled and if you keep this up, you will surely guarantee that the most deserving contenders will become finalists for this year’s People’s Choice Awards.

But wait! Before you go back to voting, take a moment to think about something completely unrelated: something that has been getting parties started for thousands of years. Nope, I’m not talking about P!nk - she hasn’t been around that long. I’m talking about wine! Yes, good old fashioned fermented grapes, my friend. And there’s no denying that it has had an impact on humans for centuries, from Jesus to Jason Priestley. What on earth (or in heaven) do they have in common, you ask? Well, Jesus of course turned water to wine to keep the party going at the wedding in Cana, and apparently JP is co-owner of a winery in British Columbia, churning out bottles of wine that are no doubt getting parties started all across the Canadian province.

I (really) digress. So where am I going with this? Last night I attended a wine tasting class, specifically covering wines from South Africa. I won’t bore you with the details, but I did learn that the most commonly used grape is the Chenin Blanc (that little trivia nugget I managed to retain won me a prize at the end of class) and that while South African wines are relatively new to the States, they are far from new to the region. Wine production in the area dates back to the 1600’s, apparently. So after tasting 12 different bottles and smelling aromas ranging from chocolate to berries to talcum powder (no, seriously, that actually happens!) I started thinking about how much of a role wine plays in our lives, and by extension, in the world of entertainment. There is rarely a dinner scene shot without the presence of half full glasses of wine on the table, and in some cases, entire scenes and even films focus solely on the topic of wine. Here are some of my favorites:

The Princess Bride: I have seen this film enough times to recite full scenes, and one of my favorite by far is the famous Battle of the Wits between The Man in Black (later to be revealed as Wesley, played to perfection by Cary Elwes) and the evil yet hilariously quirky Vizzini (played geniusly by Wallace Shawn) as they try to outsmart one another to avoid ingesting the deadly poison in one of the two goblets of wine before them.  The line of reasoning Vizzini spews with such conviction only to resort to the old “look over the there” trick is priceless. The last line he utters in the film is one of the most famously quoted: “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!” It’s a classic scene and even if you’ve seen it a hundred times, it’s worth watching again:

Next there is I Love Lucy. If I even have to describe the scene to you, you’ve been living under a rock. No matter how old you might be, it’s impossible to be alive today and not have seen one of the all time funniest Lucille Ball moments ever to have been captured to film. For me, it is invariably what comes to mind when someone mentions pressing or stomping of grapes. Even last night! The scene needs no set up, and I would happily have shared it with you – but as luck would have it, it’s apparently been pulled from YouTube due to copyright issues. Well, if my aforementioned hunch was right, then you’ve already seen it! If not, you may need to go get your hands on a best of I Love Lucy DVD, stat.

Lastly, there is Alexander Payne’s Academy Award winning 2004 Paul Giamatti vehicle, Sideways. In this case, the entire film is a love letter to wine, and there are several noteworthy scenes (see full trailer below), but my favorite by far – and I’m undoubtedly not alone on this – is the scene at the winery where Paul’s Miles loses control when the server won’t pour him a full glass, so he resorts to throwing back an entire spit bucket full of wine. It’s simultaneously disgusting and hilarious, and while you feel so sorry for Miles, you cannot help but laugh out loud.

So there you have it – while I’m a little wined-out after the tasting last night, I’m sure it won’t be long before I open another bottle – and it will probably not be too long before we see another wine moment uncorked in the world of pop culture. Now voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us which of these pop culture classics featuring wine is your favorite?

The Princess Bride
I Love Lucy
Sideways

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