What happens when you try to act like a sommelier? For Wine Spectator's 15th annual Video Contest, Italian winery Caviro, along with Volio Imports, brought together Italian wine professionals and a comedian to show what happens when we attempt to seem like an expert instead of just being ourselves. Following last year's "Wine at Home" theme, this year's contest encouraged entrants to explore their love of wine and how they are enjoying it in creative and heartfelt ways. Out of the many films submitted from all over the world, Caviro's "Sommelier: Don't Try This at Home" proved to be a favorite among WineSpectator.com voters, taking first place.
The video shows the main character, played by Italian comedian Maccio Capatonda, as he tries to judge a glass of wine at a friendly gathering. Instead of just saying what he feels, he chases his version of a sommelier's description, descending into madness.
Caviro, which produces the Tavernello wine label imported by Volio Imports, partnered with Ciaopeople Media Group to target younger drinkers with a short film, shot in two days in summer 2020 and completed that fall. When Caviro brand manager Anna Casodi found out about the video contest while browsing WineSpectator.com, she decided to submit a version for an American audience and spread the message of the story.
"The aim of this video is to talk about wine in an easy way, without prejudice and too many complications," Casodi told Wine Spectator. Joining Capatonda, Italian wine experts Luca Gardini, Andrea Gori and Alessandro Pipero also make brief appearances to help demolish clichés related to wine consumption in a provocative and entertaining way. "You don't need to be a wine critic or expert to enjoy a glass of wine, but you can simply enjoy the moment and promote wine consumption, without being swayed by appearances such as price, trends and labels, or by other people's opinions."
Casodi's Grand Prize includes two full weekend passes to Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience next month or in 2022.
This year's second-place winner, "High Tannins," submitted by young filmmaker and medical student Cole Harp, blended comedy and horror. Harp, who has been writing and directing short films since his college years at Clemson University, decided to cast his younger brother, Ryan, and use his father's wine cellar for the shoot.
"I've long been inspired by Sam Raimi's Evil Dead franchise, so the marriage between horror and comedy stems from my affection for those films," Harp said. "I wanted to make something that would scare people, but leave them smiling."
Harp comes from a family of wine lovers. His father has had a subscription to Wine Spectator for 15 years, and Harp decided to feature the 2015 cover story on director Francis Ford Coppola for the film. Harp said he shot the video in one day and the whole family got involved in the process, which was an incredible opportunity to share something he loved.
"To me, the message of the film is a silver lining," Harp said. "'When life gives you lemons, make lemonade' is kinda boring … I prefer, 'When life locks you in a wine cellar, go for the Scarecrow.'"
This year's third-place winner, "Schist or Limestone, It's Still St.-Chinian!," was written and directed by French filmmaker Luc Plissonneau, who was also a finalist in 2015. Plissonneau was a négociant in Bordeaux before deciding to blend his passion for wine and cinema 15 years ago. He wrapped "Schist or Limestone, It's Still St.-Chinian!" in two days just before pandemic lockdowns began in 2020, using a cast of mostly local winemakers.
For this year's contest, the Bordeaux native decided to showcase the terroir of the St.-Chinian AOC in France’s Languedoc region, using the appellation—which is split into two distinct sections with very different soil types—to address the importance of unity.
"There's this connection between terroir and the finished product," he said. "There is this solidarity between the two soil types and, when you're different but you live together, there is a great offering. You can join together even if you're different."
Both Harp and Plissonneau have earned a pair of tickets to either an upcoming New York Wine Experience Grand Tasting evening or a Grand Tour tasting event.
Catch all six inspiring and entertaining 2021 Video Contest finalists, plus an additional six judges' picks for honorable mentions, and find your own favorite.