“I AM NOT DRINKING ANY F**KING MERLOT!”

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Did you stop drinking merlot when actor Paul Giamatti, in the award-winning movie Sideways; berated the grape and described it as “miserable” in contrast to his favourite, pinot noir?

Do you find yourself visualising a glass of your favourite wine when songs such as Oasis’ Champagne Supernova, or Neil Diamond’s Red, red wine seep from the car radio?

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Many writers and musicians have deemed wine a saviour in their creative process. Hip Hop and R&B seem to have fallen in love with Champagne. Prominent artists like Jay Z, the Beastie Boys, Kanye West, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink all make reference to it in their songs.

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Wine has always been present in television, movies, songs and books. But not to the degree that it is today, and not with as much persuasive force.

In fact, the consumption of wine has never been more popular. Approximately 33.4 billion bottles of wine are sold and bought every year. In Australia, fifty years ago, we drank 20 times more beer than wine. Wine has fast become our drink of choice, and with it comes a sophistication and social promotion in line with our celebrities.

Wine consumption has changed because we have changed. Our obsession with the celebrity lifestyle is all consuming. We want to look like they look, wear what they wear, eat what they eat, and drink what they drink.

Alcohol consumption trends are inclined to follow what’s in the media. The movie Sideways had a considerable andnegative effect on the sale of merlot in the US, after its release.

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Akin to the popularity in pop culture, wine has become synonymous with elite actors, writers, producers, musicians and sports people. These personalities have the means to invest in the winemaking industry. The age of the celebrity-owned wine brand, estate or vineyard is well and truly upon us, with countless stars buying into the winemaking industry. Not all are investing because they have a passion for wine. Some are in the wine game simply because ‘everyone else is doing it’. Others, like Sam Neil (Two Paddocks, New Zealand), Antonio Banderas (Anta Banderas, Spain) and film director Francis Ford Coppola (California); have invested in something they truly love. The proof of their passion is in their well-respected wines and profitable vineyards.

Don Perignon put it beautifully when he said, “Come quickly! I’m drinking the stars!”

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