“What Were You Expecting, Thunderbird?”

I am a film buff, and I love a well written line as in “The stuff dreams are made of” and “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”  OK I will admit that I am more partial to certain genre of films and especially certain actors, but I enjoy a good story.  The other day I was doing a basic chore around the house, which allowed me the chance to watch a film.  I have not watched television for the last thirty years or so, but I do have quite the collection of films to watch at home when the mood hits.

Chateau Montelena Chardonnay Napa 2007

This winter has been hard on most people, and I wanted something to perk me up and to look at something verdant.  Since I would not be constantly looking at the screen I needed a film that had some fun dialogue to listen to.  I got to hear some gems like:

            “No offense, but I didn’t foresee the imminent cultivation of the Chicago vine.”

            “It wasn’t always like this, before Paris, people didn’t drink our wine.  I mean                       my friends did.  But you couldn’t hardly consider their palates discerning.”

            “Its oakey…oh, yeah and smoky.  I detect…bacon fat…laced with honey melon.”

            “If the French lose, they might bring back the guillotine.”

            “Wine is sun light, held together by water”

            “What were you expecting, Thunderbird?”

If these lines of dialogue sound familiar, then you have seen what I affectionately refer to as the “Rocky” of wine films.  I was watching Bottle Shock.  Now my Bride and I have watched this film many times, the first time was at an “Art Theater” as it was deemed a small picture.  Then she bought a copy of the film for me and we have watched enough times that I really do not have to watch the screen, but just listen to the dialogue to appreciate the film.  This is a rather loose adaptation of the story of how Chateau Montelena of Napa Valley, California won a blind taste test in France in 1976 for their Chardonnay wine.  I had already begun my early years of self-taught studies of wine and California was not really on the map for most wine shops at the time, so I can remember the natural bias of the era.  In fact, I can say that I never had a bottle of Chateau Montelena until thirty some years later, though I had enjoyed the other winner of that blind tasting test Stag’s Leap which had won for their Cabernet Sauvignon wine.  I even realize that the film took artistic license as most of the filming was done in Sonoma, because present day Napa is no longer sleepy and rustic as in the early Seventies.


While I may have enjoyed Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap, there was one wine that was quite prominent in the film, at least in the dialogue that I am glad to say that I have never tried and that is Thunderbird.  Now in my youth during those days of guzzling beer and quaffing wine there were some pretty poor excuses for “wine” that were made simply for the appeal of getting drunk quickly.  Thunderbird wine is one of those screw-cap wines that are infamous for being drunk while the bottle is still wrapped in the brown paper bag that it was purchased in.  This is a fortified wine that is made by the E & J Gallo Winery and is still a large volume product, and is probably a major contributor to the company’s bottom line for profit.  Some wines I regret that I have never had, and probably never will, and then there are some wines that I could have and I hope never will.

“Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.”

About thewineraconteur

A non-technical wine writer, who enjoys the moment with the wine, as much as the wine. Twitter.com/WineRaconteur Instagram/thewineraconteur Facebook/ The Wine Raconteur
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3 Responses to “What Were You Expecting, Thunderbird?”

  1. dwdirwin says:

    I’m curious now about Bottle Shock- I’ve seen it mentioned in several blogs and I see Alan Rickman is in it so I definitely need to see it 🙂 It would be fun to see if I can pick out where everything was filmed.

  2. Sally says:

    I’ve never seen this film – something I must rectify immediately. Love some of the lines especially the pay off.

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