Surely every wine lover has seen the fanatically humorous and cleverly scripted 2004 film, Sideways. The anti-hero, Miles, is the epitome of a wine snob with an opinionated palette. Most of you probably remember how Merlot sales plummeted in the US that year as a result of the line where Miles shouts, “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any f***ing Merlot!” At the same time, Miles’ preference for Pinot led to a rise a Pinot Noir sales by 20%. For Miles, his true love was Pinot and he would never dream of sully his palette with a taste of Merlot.
But what about that that treasured bottle in Miles’ wine collection? The legendary 1961 Cheval Blanc. Ironically, he wound up drinking in a fast food restaurant out of a paper cup. But there’s another layer of irony that might have gone unnoticed by most of the audience. Chateau Cheval Blanc produces some of the best and most expensive wines in Bordeaux. And what happens to be the main grape varietal Bordeaux- Merlot. Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, another variety that Miles snubs in the film.
Whether this was intentionally, clever irony by the screenwriters or just another Hollywood goof, I guess we will never know. But for Miles’ sake, he should have been sitting on an old vintage from Burgundy instead.