WRITTEN BY PHILLIP SILVERSTONE
Since I have a life dominated by my radio show and most movie theatres are closed by the time I’ve finished my work day in addition to this wretched winter we’re hopefully about to bid an angry adieu to, I’ve been digging deep into my box of DVDs to find some films that I remember fondly but haven’t watched in a while. So last week I poured a glass of Pinot Noir and re-watched “Sideways,” the 2004 film directed by Alexander Payne and starring Paul Giamatti, Thomas Hayden Church and Virginia Madsen.
If you have never seen “Sideways,” Amazon has copies available under $8 or you can rent from Netflix.
As many of you will remember, “Sideways” was a buddy film about two guys spending some time in California’s wine country before one of the pals slips into wedded bliss. And the film focused its lens on the guys’ lusting and quaffing. As both screenwriter and director, Mr. Payne diligently did his homework and captured the serious wine lover’s approach with aplomb. Just like Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” these two contrasting personalities traveling the wine roads together simultaneously did textbook right and wrong.
I grimaced at the attitudes of both characters. The wine snob swirled and smelled and gargled and then pontificated on all the fruity flavors and characteristics he could determine from his glass, while his buddy downed his glass with instant gusto. No time for subtle nuanced observations, just a quick quaff with “hit me again, bartender” bravura. And if this wasn’t infuriating enough for his wine snob friend, he further offended him by failing to remove the gum from his mouth when tasting the wine.
Not only did that moment produce the funniest line in the film, it was also one of the most accurate sequences. I can’t tell you how many times people have attended my wine soirees and from my elevated position (meaning the stage rather than a high opinion of myself) I see them chewing gum. Once or twice I’ve amused myself by interrupting my rambling observations and asked the person happily tasting and chewing whether they find the wine has pronounced characteristics of Juicy Fruit and Merlot or Wrigley’s-flavored Riesling. As Rodney Dangerfield might have said: “‘Hey, I don’t get no respect’ at my tastings.” Although I find wine garglers who detect dozens of fruit flavors a pretty absurd group, I hold gum-chewers in similar disdain.
You know my mantra: Wine and food should be savored. So, a word of caution. If you plan to attend any of my wine tastings and forget to remove the gum before entering the premises, be prepared. Some friends and I may lift you up and eject you from the room — sideways. Cheers!
Phillip Silverstone’s column appears regularly in this publication. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly two-hour podcast heard exclusively on TuneIn radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free Tunein app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online on Tunein at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4. “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining