Bottle Shock

"Based on a true story." I always like to see that when a movie begins, don't you?

Seattle International Film Festival attendees awarded star Alan Rickman ("Something the Lord Made," "Snow Cake," "Truly, Madly, Deeply" and "Sense & Sensibility") the "Golden Needle Award" for his performance as the stuffy British wine expert who is talked into visiting the California Wine Country by his feisty Parisian friend, played by Dennis Farina ("What Happens in Vegas," "Paparazzi" and "You Kill Me"). His mission is to see if California wineries in 1979 can produce wine worthy of a taste test in France. California wines have been sneered at, ridiculed and rejected by the French from the very beginning, so the vintners in Napa Valley are NOT welcoming, as they assume it will be another rigged excuse to jeer at them.

Rickman's culture shock is delicious. No one can look disgusted, snooty and curious, all the while trying to maintain some modicum of good manners better than Rickman! His hesitant first encounters with Kentucky Fried Chicken and corn chips with guacamole dip are two of his more memorable scenes.

Bill Pullman ("Independence Day," "While You Were Sleeping" and "Ruthless People") is a dedicated perfectionist who is down to his last loan. His vineyard is carefully maintained and his bottling techniques are meticulous...almost to a fault! He is frustrated and broke. His son, played by Chris Pine ("Star Trek," "Smokin' Aces" and "Just My Luck"), is a major disappointment, unmotivated and going nowhere...fast!

Of course there is the inevitable romantic triangle which lacks any spark whatsoever, so there is very little point in discussing it. Suffice it to say, it isn't important to the story. They are able to use "real" newspapers and magazines when Rickman is successful in arranging a blind taste test conducted by France's acknowledged top wine experts.

We all love it when the little guy comes from behind, don't we! Watching how it all came about is the joy of this heartwarming little film.
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Here is a trailer:
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