Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | June 9, 2010


The other day, I watched a movie called Bottle Shock.

As noted in the Wikipedia article, the movie is based on the 1976 wine competition termed the “Judgment of Paris”, when California wine defeated French wine in a blind taste test. It stars Alan Rickman, Chris Pine and Bill Pullman and is directed by Randall Miller, who wrote the screenplay along with Jody Savin and Ross Schwartz.

Like I said in my earlier post, many times Hollywood makes movies which may not always be very good by it but it urges you to think outside your general realms of thoughts. I like such movies and commend such directors and producers. Bottle Shock was one such movie. I liked the movie because New Zealand, the country I am currently in is one of the wine nations of the world! No wonder I admired a movie like Bottle Shock because in last few months that I am here, I have drunk lot of good wine and seen a few vineyards.

New Zealand is home to what many wine critics consider the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc. I am not a connoisseur to great wine to comment on different varieties and tastes, but as I stepped for the first time in an Auckland supermarket, nearly 2 years back, I saw huge stacks of a variety of wines. Not only there were a variety of wines being sold in the supermarket but the wines were very cheap. I was surprised to see a good bottle of wine costing less than a pack of cigarette. In fact, I think they cost as much as a kilogram of chicken and much less than some of the sea food. The price surprised me and I thought it will be unfair if I don’t try New Zealand wine myself. So despite being in love with good whisky as an alcoholic beverage I tried wine.

Again I repeat I am not a connoisseur, but I do have very strong taste buds. New Zealand wine tastes very good and for people residing in New Zealand it is great value for money too. For people coming from outside and residing in New Zealand, it is a good opportunity to develop a taste for fine quality wine. I am doing that albeit slowly.

Wine is part of New Zealand’s culture as I see it. Though Kiwis and Aussies are often identified as beer drinking guzzlers, but the preference for wine is evident at every eatery that you will visit. Wine of course is much for classy and preferred by people considered to be more mature but due to its availability and price, it is a common drink. In India, if you order a bottle of wine in restaurant you have to spend quite a lot, so for people like me who are occasional wine drinkers, it is a welcome change. In fact, I am not sure how much a bottle of decent wine costs in India since I have never bought one myself.

Like I started my post, by mentioning how films such as Bottle Shock educate to a certain extent, the availability of wine here have educated me a bit on wine. Though I must admit more than getting educated on wine, I enjoy the feeling of awe inside me when I experience such things. For example, I was so mighty pleased to find sparkling wine (sparkling wine from a particular place in France is called Champagne) being sold in supermarkets in 300 ml bottles. It is like bottled Coke.

Offices in New Zealand also host Friday staff drinks once a week, biweekly or monthly depending on how they are controlling cost in recessionary environment. Staff drinks in office premises, I think is legally barred in India. Here there is no law which prevents that and it is a common practice. Initially, I was surprised but now I am used to it. In India, employers do host occasional parties, offsite trips etc. Here other than staff drinks there are very few things which are sponsored by office. Also, sponsoring a staff drink is not that expensive when wine is so cheap. Therefore, I enjoy it as long as it is provided. More than me, lot many people enjoy it much more. Having said that, none of the staff drinks turn into parties when people forget office decorum. That is good.

I was telling my very elderly aunt the other day on phone, alcohol is easily available, it is cheap and people drink a lot does not necessarily mean streets and houses are full of drunkards! Sometimes old people equate anyone drinking with the character of Basesar Ram.



  1. Have fun, Tanmoy! Wine is better (or at least less harmful) for the health than spirits, they say. And it’s good to hear that wine is both good and cheap out there. Here local wines are not too bad – the decent ones (made in Goa) cost you between Rs. 600 and 1000 a 750 ml. bottle. The wine fancy is slowly catching on here, too, although, as you understand, availability is still a constraint in small towns – where most buyers want ‘hard’ drinks on the cheap, the aim being to get drunk the soonest possible. Which only reinforces the conservative prejudice that someone who drinks can only be a drunkard…

    One thing, though: no matter how good Californian or Kiwi or Indian wines may be, you will never convince a true-blue Frenchman that anybody else can make a good wine. It’s a matter of national honour with them. Du pain, du vin, du fromage – ca, c’est un gentilhomme francais, they like to say: bread and wine and cheese are what make a French gentleman!

  2. I have absolutely no knowledge about wine. I learnt from The Holiday that Chardonnay is a kind of white wine, but that is all I know. Have fun though! 🙂

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