Drinking Pinot Noir at the Airport

PaulGiamettiIn Alexander Payne’s inimitable comedy Sideways––you know, the thinking man’s predecessor to The Hangover that featured wine instead of shots and Sandra Oh instead of Mike Tyson and his tiger––Paul Giametti’s character wouldn’t even stoop to drinking Merlot in California’s Central Coast wine region. In fact, Giametti’s Academy Award-winning performance singlehandedly killed Merlot sales (at least temporarily) with the following line: “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any f*$king Merlot!”

In the film, he favors Pinot Noir. Unsurprisingly, Pinot Noir sales skyrocketed, especially in California. Blame it on Hollywood, perhaps, but Merlot is just not that cool anymore.

If the producers ever make Sideways II, or The Other Side-Ways, they’ll probably send Lance and Miles on a far flung trip to Tuscany where their wine escapade will involve Italian mafia. There maybe be a cameo where Berlusconi tries to bunga bunga with Sandra Oh. More importantly, there will be an essential scene where Lance convinces Miles to kick off the trip with a toast at the San Francisco airport, and Miles says, “I don’t drink wine at f*#king airports.”

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Don’t try this at the airport. Especially the Minneapolis one. Minnesotans value temperance, or at least moderation.

Quite sensibly, Lance will attempt to reason with him. “Dude, when’s the last time you drank wine at the airport? You don’t have to drink crap wine anymore–they actually have wine bars at airports now.”

USA Today sent me across the country to check out some of America’s newest, and most fetching, airport wine bars. Here’s the story. My personal favorite? It’s Surdyk’s Flights in the Minneapolis airport––but, of course, I’m biased, since Minneapolis is my original hometown and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport is where I took my first flight as a child, back in the 1980s when they still served hot meals on domestic flights. And complimentary wine––although I doubt it was Pinot Noir.  Or even Merlot.