Five Things We Learned from “Sideways”

It’s been a full decade since Sideways was released (#ThingsThatMakeYouFeelOld). This movie is ridiculously full of wine lessons and life lessons. Plus it’s a good freaking flick. You haven’t seen it? Grounds for unfriending! Here are five things to take away from one of the greatest wine movies of our time…

*May contain explicit language. Actually, who are we kidding? It DOES.

1. It’s okay to swear in your tasting notes.

Describing a wine as “tight” is acceptable. People will understand what you mean and regard you as knowledgeable. But when Miles says “it’s tighter than a nun’s asshole!” doesn’t that just illustrate the point SO. Much. Better? Don’t you (like it or not) now have a visceral sense of exactly how tight this wine is? Or go ahead and call that crappy wine “dirty.” But how dirty IS it? “Like the back of an LA school bus… rancid tar and turpentine bullshit. Fuckin’ Raid.” Now you know! Miles has just transported us all back to grade school, when the smell of school bus exhaust was first etched into our memories. Or to your first off-campus apartment, where you met your first roach and sprayed it with an entire thing of Raid. Now you know exactly how shitty that wine is. And you can skip drinking it altogether.

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2. Sometimes you have to drink the good shit out of a styrofoam cup. And there’s never a “perfect” time to drink it.

We all have our “Miles” moments where we cling to a particular bottle for sentimental reasons. Now, not many of us are fortunate enough to have a ’61 Cheval Blanc sitting around, but maybe you have one or two good bottles that you’re “saving.” Saving for what? The “perfect” time with the “perfect” people? I’ll level with ya- that perfect time might never happen. And as Maya eloquently says in the movie, “You know, the day you open a ’61 Cheval Blanc.. that’s the special occasion.” You can try all you want to have the right circumstance, the right moment, the right everything. You can stress about when is the most “optimal” drinking window. You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather, y’all. Just let go and drink it.

3. Pinot Noir is a finicky bitch. And you love it.

Miles Raymond loves Pinot Noir. Most of us in our late 20’s-early 30’s actually don’t remember a time when Pinot Noir wasn’t popular. In fact, we have Miles to thank for some of Pinot Noir’s popularity. “The Sideways Effect” was a real thing. According to an August 2005 statistic, Pinot Noir sales had increased by roughly 45% since July 2004. Kind of unbelievable for one little grape. But why does Miles love it? “It’s… thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early… Pinot needs constant care and attention… and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and… ancient on the planet.” Preach it, Miles. Preach it!

4. One last fling before you get married? Bad idea, dummy!

Now we come to Jack. Oh, Jack. You really thought jetting up to Santa Barbara and hooking up with the hot chick on the motorcycle a few weeks before the wedding was a good idea? What a fun little fantasy, right? Well, this is the kind of fantasy that ends up with you getting your nose broken by a motorcycle helmet. You know what that’s called? Reality.

5. Stand by your principles.

Jack: “If they want to drink Merlot, we’re drinking Merlot.”

Miles: “No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!”

Perhaps the most famous line of the movie. I will, however, stand tall and stick up for Merlot. It’s a great grape. Actually, it can be a truly amazing grape. But if you’ve tried a few and you just didn’t care for them- or any other grape, for that matter? Guess what? Don’t drink it! Don’t compromise. On grapes or any other thing for which you feel strongly about. Don’t tell your date you like Merlot if you don’t. You might come off as easy-going and cool the first time, but you will live to regret setting that precedent. That is not to say that life doesn’t sometimes demand that we compromise. Rigidity is no way to go through life. But neither is drinking things you don’t like for someone else’s sake. That’s just nonsense.

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