Of Wine and Men…and Women

THIS SNIPPET OF dialogue is from the film Sideways starring Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen.  It came in a point in the film when Giamatti’s flawed Miles and Madsen’s strong-willed Maya were just in the getting-to-know-each-other stage, the onset of something more than friendship.  With a great deal of restraint, I’m going to reserve further comment.

God, I wish I have a good bottle of wine right now.

– o –

MAYA (a wine connoisseur played by Virginia Madsen)
Why are you so into Pinot? It’s like a thing with you.

Miles laughs at first, then smiles wistfully at the question. He searches for the answer in his glass and begins slowly.

MILES (another wine connoisseur played by Paul Giamatti)

I don’t know. It’s a hard grape to grow. As you know. It’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It’s not a survivor like Cabernet that can grow anywhere and thrive even when neglected. Pinot needs constant care and attention and in fact can only grow in specific little tucked-away corners of the world. And only the most patient and nurturing growers can do it really, can tap into Pinot’s most fragile, delicate qualities. Only when someone has taken the time to truly understand its potential can Pinot be coaxed into its fullest expression. And when that happens, its flavors are the most haunting and brilliant and subtle and thrilling and ancient on the planet.

Maya has found this answer revealing and moving.

MILES
I mean, Cabernets can be powerful and exalting, but they seem prosaic to me for some reason. By comparison. How about you?

MAYA
What about me?

MILES
I don’t know. Why are you into wine?

MAYA
I suppose I got really into wine originally through my ex-husband. He had a big, kind of show-off cellar. But then I found out that I have a really sharp palate, and the more I drank, the more I liked what it made me think about.

MILES
Yeah? Like what?

MAYA
Like what a fraud he was.

Miles laughs.

MAYA
No, but I do like to think about the life of wine, how it’s a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing, how the sun was shining that summer or if it rained…what the weather was like. I think about all those people who tended and picked the grapes, and if it’s an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I love how wine continues to evolve, how every time I open a bottle it’s going to taste different than if I had opened it on any other day. Because a bottle of wine is actually alive—it’s constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks—like your ’61—and begins its steady, inevitable decline. And it tastes so fucking good.

Now it is Miles’s turn to be swept away. Maya’s face tells us the moment is right, but Miles remains frozen. He needs another sign, and Maya is bold enough to offer it: reaches out and places one hand atop his.

RATING : This is a charming movie with a charming lead in Paul Giamatti. 4.0/5.0

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