The wine world is full of great “gotcha” moments especially when it comes to blind tastings. One of the great gotcha moments in wine was the fabled “Paris tasting” in 1976 when American wines, poured blind to French judges, defeated similar French wines. It had a lot of ramifications including the ascent of American wine onto the world stage and the rise of the blind tasting for many critics.
Does it sound like there’s the makings of a full-length feature film in there to you? Quite frankly, I fail to see how there’s enough material in the event for movie–it’s a critical event, sure, but one moment in a larger, more interesting story about wine, wine consumption, and wine production.
But that must be why I am not a Hollywood executive since there are currently two separate–and rival!–productions to portray these events on the silver screen. One version, “Bottle Shock,” supposedly begins shooting next week with Alan Rickman as Steven Spurrier, the Englishman who organized the original tasting. Danny DeVito will play Mike Grgich, the Croatian immigrant who made the winning chardonnay and is also know for effectively pulling off a beret. Yes, this means DeVito will be filmed wearing a beret! (I think he can pull it off.) And with the endorsement of Grgich and Jim Barrett, owner of Chateau Montelena, since they favor this version of the events.
Another production, “The Judgment of Paris,” has Spurrier’s official endorsement as well as that of George Taber, the author of the book of that name based on his reporting for TIME magazine (originally a four paragraph story). They’re still looking for a lead, with Hugh Grant and Jude Law “rumored.” (No word on who will wear the beret in this version) And now various parties associated with this film are threatening to sue “Bottle Shock.”
Thirty years later, the tasting still generates controversy. But in this case, the box office will be the final arbiter. If they don’t both flop, that is.