By Briony Smith & Victoria Walsh
1. Age of Innocence
Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) leads a life of quiet desperation during stiff-upper-lip Victorian England. Although he may be engaged to perky May (Winona Ryder), he’s jolted out of his sleepy existence upon meeting Ryder’s cousin, the separated (gasp!) Countess Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer). Their most erotic scene takes place in the back of a carriage on a wintry day—he removes her glove, and kisses her palm, a moment of human desire more entrancing than any corsets being ripped asunder.
What to drink : Make like an aristocratic lady from Victorian England by sipping on the drink of choice from that time — red wine. Select a well-balanced, understated Cabernet Sauvignon.
2. The Long, Hot Summer
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward had one of the most beloved partnerships in Hollywood: married for 48 years, they also worked together on 16 films. But, boy, oh, boy, their first is a lulu. Newman—arguably the hottest old-school star of all time—plays a silver-tongued drifter named Ben Quick who bunks down with the wealthy Varner family during the eponymous long hot summer. He and Clara Varner (Woodward) don’t get along at first, but those stunning baby blues, sweaty muscles and signature smirk wear her down. During a late-night visit to his shop, every line out of Newman’s mouth feels like a subtle come-on; every time he uses her name he draws her a little closer. “You buying something, Miss Clara, or just shoppin’ around?” he asks, telling the shy, stern schoolteacher “the world belongs to the meat-eaters, Miss Clara, and if you have to eat it raw, you eat it raw.” Finally, he comes right out: “You put those things down, Miss Clara, because I’m gonna kiss you. I’m going to show you how simple it is. You please me, I please you.” The fact that the pair were falling in love for real makes it even hotter.
What to drink: Pair this classic film with a crisp Californian Riesling. They’re smooth and sweet, just like ‘King Cool’ himself.
3. Before Sunset
Sometimes what we don’t see is even more erotic than what appears on-screen. Nine years after they enjoyed one magical evening wandering Vienna together, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet again in Paris at his book launch. They spend the afternoon reminiscing about their 12-hour fling and talking about everything else: aging, relationships, work. They end up back at her place—just for tea and a little Nina Simone in the final hour before Jesse catches his flight back to New York. But an hour-and-a-half of real-time foreplay (cinched by Delpy’s charming Simone impression) lets the viewer know that what happens after the fade-to-black is a lot more entertaining than a transatlantic flight.
What to drink: Sip on a rich and juicy Burgundy that has benefitted from a long aging process, not unlike the relationship between Celine and Jesse.
4. The Last of the Mohicans
Daniel Day-Lewis smolders as the hot-headed Hawkeye, outfitted in a manly assortment of hides and modeling flowing woodland locks. He saves the strong-willed Cora (Madeleine Stowe) from a war-party ambush, and they fall in love as he escorts her through the forest to safety at her father’s military fort. Once arrived, Hawkeye and Cora weave their way through the throng of soldiers partying by the bonfire to meet in the middle like magnets, then sneak off to share one very passionate kiss.
What to drink : Swirl and sniff a woodsy, oaky Cabernet Franc with earthy and leathery notes — its fragrant aromas may haunt you as much as DDL and MS’s stellar performances.
5. Bull Durham
Veteran minor league baseball catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) has a twinkly-eyed, laconic way about him that makes you want to go wherever he leads you. He initially bows down to rookie Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) for groupie Annie Savoy’s (Susan Sarandon) seasonal affections, but his famous “I believe” speech inspires a dazzled “Oh, my” from Sarandon. Their first-sight heat eventually blooms into an easy, sexy camaraderie of post-coital cereal feasts, making out in the bath and dancing in the kitchen.
What to drink: Celebrate Costner’s candidness by enjoying a bottle of unpretentious, unabashedly bold and fruit-forward Malbec.
6. Out of Sight
Being kidnapped and shoved in a trunk with a grease-covered convict sounds decidedly unsexy—until you find out that the con in question, Jack Foley, is played George Clooney. His banter with U.S. marshal Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez) about 1970s movies (plus his brushing her thigh here and there, as it’s later revealed) is enough to inspire a “time-out” between cop and robber in a hotel one night. During drinks at a hotel bar, the delicious tension is heightened by Steven Soderbergh’s cross-cutting the conversation with the subsequent love scene that takes place after they decide to cut short on cocktails. “You wanna get out of here?” she asks. “Yeah.”
What to drink: Savour Foley and Sisco’s happy hour with a wine-meets-liqueur blend called Lillet. Serve its rouge or blanc versions over ice. Or turn it into an aperitif cocktail: shake with a splash of gin and ice, then garnish with twist of orange.
7. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
After walking up to Cristina (Scarlett Johannson) and Vicky (Rebecca Hall)’s restaurant table, exactly 13 seconds elapses between Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem)’s innocuous opening line (“You American?”) and asking them to fly to Oviedo and spend the weekend with him (“We leave in one hour”). Thirty-four seconds after that, he informs them what they’ll be doing there: “I’ll show you around the city and we’ll eat well and drink good wine, we’ll make love.” When Hall asks, eyes akimbo, “Who exactly is going to make love?,” he replies “Hopefully the three of us” as matter-of-a-factly as if ordering off a menu. We’re in agreement with Bardem: “Life is short, life is full, life is full of pain. And this is a chance for something special.”
What to drink: Decant a bottle of spicy and bold Spanish Rioja — one with enough intensity to match Bardem’s sexy proposition. And give it lots of time to breathe.
8. Little Children
Kate Winslet plays Sarah Pierce, a timid, meek housewife whose biggest risk in life is ordering a new red swimsuit (a one-piece!) and flirting with the local handsome stay-at-home dad, Brad (Patrick Wilson). Their mutual crush grows, with small, sultry summer moments like Wilson’s gaze drifting over her sunbathing body or her hand resting on his chest for a moment too long. It takes a rainstorm forcing them inside to finally give into their lust in the laundry room. “Do you feel bad about this?” Brad gasps as he gives her the business on the dryer. “No, I don’t,” Sarah answers. “I do,” says Brad. “I feel really bad.” Sarah still doesn’t, and gives him a hearty slap on the ass for emphasis.
What to drink: Be spontaneous and uncork that cherished bottle of Chablis or Chianti you have tucked away. It’s time to seize the day!
There’s something about period pieces that make any hanky-panky especially titillating. Atonement sets its hottest scene in a musty old library in a stately country home. Highborn Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley) slays, all trembling lip and miles of emerald-green silk, as she asks the housekeeper’s son and long-time friend Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) if he returns her feelings: “Don’t you know?” “Yes,” says Robbie. “I know exactly.” The moment of their union is perfectly captured by the image of her foot rising out of her silvery high heel as he pins her to the shelves of books towering behind them.
What to drink: Back in the day, it wasn’t proper for ladies to drink fortified wine, but then again, nor was it kosher to make out with the housekeeper’s son. Get into the rebel highborn spirit by sipping on an aromatic ruby Port or perfectly chilled glass of Sherry.
10. Take This Waltz
Sarah Polley’s beautiful, somewhat sad Take This Waltz tracks the waxing and waning of desire. Margot (Michelle Williams) is married to Lou (Seth Rogen), but she can’t help but chase soulful neighbour Daniel (Luke Kirby) over the course of one really, really hot summer. We always want what we can’t have, and his very, very detailed description of what he would do to her if he could, as they sit in a quiet, humid café in the middle of the day, is 10 times sexier than seeing it actually happen.
What to drink: This thought-provoking tale is perfectly paired with a delicate, yet complex Pinot Noir…from Canada, of course.
11. Fatal Attraction
Happily married lawyer Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) spies wild-haired editor Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) at a party. He’s taken, but there’s definite chemistry. Enough chemistry that Dan flinches when he’s informed that Alex will be attending a work meeting with his team the following day. The film has plenty of hot sex scenes (including the infamous elevator romp) but that first seemingly innocent encounter is sexiest of all because it’s tipping point—nothing has happened, and yet everything’s happened already.
What to drink : Opt for an Australian Shiraz that’s so deliciously tasty and enticing that it’s impossible to resist pouring another glass. And yes, you will regret it in the morning.
12. Blue Valentine
Cunnilingus gets short shrift in the movies; the ratings board and directors shy away from showing the act in favour of theatrical, sheet-covered rumpy-pumpy, but Derek Cianfrance plunged fearlessly into the breach (no pun intended) with an extended scene of Dean (Ryan Gosling) going down on Cindy (Michelle Williams). The film originally got an NC-17 rating solely for that reason, as Gosling told The Guardian, “The sex felt real; it wasn’t sexy or ‘a sex scene’, and that’s why we got into trouble.” It does look (and sound) startlingly real, like watching your hottest hipster friends get it on. You can watch the raciest scene here.
What to drink : Relish the rugged, unpolished character of an Oregon Gamay or Spanish Tempranillo — full-bodied with velvety mouth feel.