Blend your Netflix addiction and wine obsession into an ultimate night of chilling with one of these vino-focused films. From the lucrative world of wine fraud (oh yeah, that’s a thing) to one for the beer lovers, we’ve got a little something for everyone. And you might even learn something.
For a more adventurous lesson on wine, Sour Grapes follows the story of Rudy Kurniawan and one of the largest wine counterfeiting cases in history. This 2016 documentary focuses on the fine and rare wine auction market, and how Kurniawan befriended the rich and powerful so he could sell millions of dollars of fraudulent wine. One viewer commented that even as someone who doesn’t drink or care for wine, the film was still fascinating.
SOMM & Somm: Into the Bottle
Ever wanted to be a sommelier? After watching both of these films, your dreams might be crushed. Who knew drinking wine could be so stressful? SOMM follows four candidates (including our friend Dustin Wilson!) preparing for the extremely difficult Master Sommelier examination. It’s an excellent way to get a glimpse into a wine world you might otherwise not get a chance to see. The sequel, Somm: Into the Bottle, features a more in-depth look at the history and politics that go into bringing a bottle of vino from the vineyard to your table.
The Birth of Sake
This 2015 documentary follows the sake-making process at Yoshida Brewery, a 144-year-old family owned operation in northern Japan. The film centers around the brewery’s workers, an “eclectic cast of characters” ranging from 20 to 70 years old. They have to work through the harsh winter, and the older employees are intent on preserving the quality of taste, tradition, and brand reputation for Yoshida. The narrative of the movie follows the brewery’s energy and desire to survive, as well as the pressure of competing alongside hundreds of other brands of sake. The director, Erik Shirai, and his team lived amongst the workers at the brewery and were allowed full access to completely document the art of traditional sake making. According to the film’s website, “living at the brewery allowed them a rare window into a cast of vibrant and dynamic characters and fueled their interest in painting a deeper portrait of the people behind the product.”
A Year in Champagne
Get an inside look into everything that goes into making a bottle of bubbly. This documentary also details the history of the Champagne region, including rampant war and destruction from both World Wars, and one of the worst Champagne-making years ever, 2012. Guided by wine importer Martine Saunier, A Year in Champagne offers “a rare glimpse behind the scenes into the real Champagne through six houses, from small independent makers…to the illustrious houses of Gosset and Bollinger.” Watch the wine blenders mix Champagne to match the style of its house, and create enough bubbles without causing the bottle to explode. Who knew the path to mimosas was so serious?
Crafting a Nation
We had to put something on this list for beer lovers! Self-described as a documentary about how American craft brewers are rebuilding the economy “one beer at a time,” Crafting a Nation follows key industry players and small breweries who, in addition to creating beer, have generated jobs and tax revenue. They all want to create a product that stands for something without sacrificing their local roots, from California to Colorado to Massachusetts to Missouri. Perfectly on brand with the country’s growing craft beer obsession, this film is truly an all-American documentary.