Showing posts with label Wine Country. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wine Country. Show all posts

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Wine Country and Wine Myths

Set in the gorgeous Napa Valley, Wine Country is a Netflix movie about six girlfriends who reunited to celebrate Rebecca's milestone birthday. With a strong cast of SNL powerhouses and Amy Poehler as the director, the movie surprisingly did not deliver consistently on its comedic moments.

Wine Country, the movie
However, getting past the slow start and some of the silly singing scenes, it is a warm and fun chick flick with hilarious stretches. The movie also highlights the strength of female friendships and the new possibilities of life even at 50.

Soppy sentiments aside, I want to share with you my favorite moments in the movie where some wine myths were parodied.

Myth of the Sophisticated Senses

The first winery that the girls went to was set on a hilltop, reminding me of an oasis paradise perched on the base of a Mayan pyramid. Filmed at one of my favorite Napa wineries, Artesa, the opulent outdoor tasting area was surrounded by lush greenery, overlooking an expansive pool. 

Breathtaking Artesa Winery
The tasting room pourer was eager to hear what the girls picked up from the wine. “There is no wrong answer,” he encouraged. He then proceeded to tell Rebecca that every note she picked up was wrong.

The truth is apart from some distinct exceptions (like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc), wine taste profile is incredibly subtle. While our taste perceptions are extremely personal, we are also very much influenced by our cognitive faculty. Wine connoisseurs in particular are trained to think certain ways about different grape varietals, and that influences how they taste. This is why blind tasting is so hard. Even Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker may pick up different notes in the same wine.

So if you feel like you lack sophisticated senses to pick up the "right" notes from a wine, just be like Rebecca and confidently proclaim, "Grape!"

Myth of the Sulfites

The movie was not shy about making fun of wineries that are overly zealous in their vinicultural and oenological practices. Morgan Jorng, a fictional winery that the girls visited, prides itself for being solar and organic. As such, they don't use pesticides or sulfates.

The pourer was probably referring to the very much maligned sulfites, often accused of causing headaches among wine drinkers. In fact, sulfites are natural occurring compounds found in all wines and are often added as an antioxidant and preservative to stabilize the wine. The true culprit of headaches is dehydration caused by alcohol. This can be easily remedied.

As a hobby winemaker and a chronic migraineur, I am skeptical when I see a wine that is advertised as being sulfite-free. I am even less trusting when I see gadgets in the market that claim to remove sulfites from wine so as to prevent headaches. Seriously, ditch the gadget, save your money, and drink more water.

Myth of the Sediment

I am thrilled that the movie introduced the topic of tartrates or wine diamonds. Tartrates, a natural byproduct of the wine making process, are often removed from white wine in commercial wineries through a process known as cold stabilization. This is because tartrates can look like ground glass and cause undue concerns to wine consumers. However, tartrates are really harmless and add to the flavor of the wine. Organic and minimalist wineries as well as hobby winemakers tend to skip cold stabilization. In fact, some would argue that the higher quality the wine, the more likely it is that you will see wine diamonds.

Wine diamonds often mistaken as ground glass
However, the movie left out the less glamorous contributor of wine sediment, which is often found in red wine. These are the leftovers from the fermentation process - yeast cells, grape seeds, stems, and skins. Known as the lees, these are often removed during secondary fermentation and aging through racking. It is a fine line how much lees contact you want in your wine. With experience, the right grapes or a particular style of wine, lees can contribute to a certain flavor profile that elevates the wine. However, as a hobby winemaker, I certainly err on the side of racking.

My Verdict: While it may not be the best Amy Poehler movie, Wine Country has some hilarious winery and girlfriend scenes. It is not that serious about wine so don't expect it to be SOMM 4 or A Year in Napa. However, it does bring forth some misconceptions about wine. More importantly, it inspires me to start planning for my big 5-0 wine adventure more than any other movie. Cheers!