With the increasing popularity of on-demand television and online streaming services, now, it is easier than ever before to enjoy and learn about wine without even opening a bottle. That being said, with hours of top quality viewing to enjoy, temptation to open a bottle will always be highly likely. A well stocked wine cooler and close to hand corkscrew are recommended before beginning to make your way through WineFrog’s list of top 10 wine TV shows, documentaries and films.
"Somm" documents the journey of four rising stars within the sommelier world as they prepare for the daunting Master Sommelier exam to become part of the Court of Master Sommeliers. The quantity and variety of wines they taste will make you light headed. The amount of on-screen spitting will make you nauseous. And the amount of knowledge possessed by these budding Master Sommeliers will humble even the most enthusiastic oenophiles.
Watch for: An introduction into the world of sommeliers and the Master Sommelier exam and pre-exam nerves. This film is highly quotable yet with highly unorthodox wine tasting notes.
Somm 2: Into the Bottle (2015)
Hot off the success of "Somm", "Somm 2" is less narrative and a broader introduction into the wine world. The structure of the documentary vaguely follows the winemaking process, with interviews and explanations from the four stars of the original "Somm", as well as many other renowned figures within the wine world as they discuss everything wine-related from tasting notes, bouquets, aromas, aging and what makes a good wine.
Watch for: Interviews of experts drinking very expensive and very exclusive wine. A detailed introduction into winemaking processes and wine regions. Another look at the stars we met and learned to love within the original "Somm" documentary.
A Year in Burgundy (2013)
Chronicling the complete year-round life-cycle of grapes varieties in one of the world’s best known winemaking regions in the worlds, Burgundy, France, this documentary is a must watch. To really appreciate a fine Burgundy, one must first witness the year-round attention and exertion that takes place within the vineyard from which it was made.
A Year in Champagne (2014)
"A Year in Champagne" is to "A Year in Burgundy", what sparkling wine is to still wine. The idea is exactly the same, yet it’s all a bit more extravagant, exaggerated and eccentric. Learning how to make Champagne from a book is easy enough, but watching the complete process on screen really helps to understand each step and appreciate why we pay as much as we do for one of the world’s most celebrated wine styles.
Watch for: Lots of cork-popping, more French scenery and more eccentric French winemakers.
Red Obsession (2013)
While the previous two documentaries focused on Champagne and Burgundy, "Red Obsession" looks at France’s other premium wine region - Bordeaux. Renowned for producing the world’s most coveted, expensive wines, Bordeaux has long been the choice of the world’s mega rich. Right now, that means that the most important market in the world is China. This documentary focuses on the relationship between France’s most prestigious wine region and it’s newest, richest customer.
Watch for: Interviews with some of the most influential people within the French wine industry and eye-watering sales prices at wine auctions. This documentary is narration by Russell Crowe.
Boom Varietal (2011)
Stepping out of France, "Boom Varietal" takes us to Argentina, one of the up and coming New World wine producing countries. Concentrating particularly on Malbec, this documentary demonstrates the fairly recent development that has allowed Argentina to produce wines of increasingly high quality.
Oz and James's’ Big Wine Adventure (2006 - 2007, 2 seasons)
The formula is simple - take one well-known wine expert and pair him with a middle aged beer drinking wine sceptic. Watch as the sceptic turns convert, marveling in what he learns and begins to taste and appreciate as they travel across the varying wine regions of France. Later, Season 2 takes the pair "across the pond" to the United States.
Watch for: Middle-aged, British male comedy. In depth tasting notes and wine knowledge. Wine facts.
The Wine Show (2016 - ongoing, 1 season)
Covering another of Europe's most well known wine regions, Italy, the two main presenters are wine novices, though, well known TV and Film personalities. Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys explore a different Italian region in each episode, while being educated by various locals along the way. Joining the pair are various wine experts, who set them challenges as well as presenting mini-features on different worldwide wine regions.
Watch for: Introduction to wine tasting and food pairing, features on wine gadgets and an in-depth look at Italian wine regions.
Bottle Shock (2008)
Chronicling the events leading up to and during the 1976 Paris Judgement, this American Comedy-Drama does a great job of portraying an important event within the history of New World winemaking. Shot on location in California and France, the director achieved good results on a tight budget. The script, however, leaves a lot to be desired and has since come under scrutiny by the characters upon which the film was based.
Watch for: Alan Rickman. Winemaking History.
Any wine film that makes a noticeable impact on US and UK wine sales is one worth watching. This comedy-drama, adapted from the novel of the same name, follows two friends as they embark upon a road trip through the Santa Ynez Valley wine region in California. Throughout the film, Miles (one of the two main characters) waxes lyrical about Pinot Noir, while expressing a certain disregard for Merlot. After the film's release in 2004, Pinot Noir sales remarkably increased across the UK and US, while those of Merlot simultaneously dropped.
Watch for: Good humour. Great original soundtrack. Memorable Merlot and Pinot Noir quotes.
These great features will give any wine-lover a break from the monotony of cliché programming and give them something they'd really enjoy watching and can relate to, if you're one of them, try giving one of these features a try.