“I am not drinking any Merlot!”

Those words, spoken by the main character in the 2004 hit film “Sideways,” were to the user-friendly, then wildly popular varietal what “salmonella outbreak” would be to your local fine dining restaurant.

No one anticipated the effect of that outburst by Pinot Noir-loving, Merlot-hating Miles (played by Paul Giamatti, who didn’t know jack about either wine when making the movie). But effect there certainly was. Pinot Noir sales shot up by some 16 percent after the movie’s release, a prelude to 9 percent increases in the years following.

Merlot, however, wasn’t quite so fortunate. Both sales and prices dropped markedly after “Sideways” debut, though admittedly it was lower-end Merlots that bore the brunt of the decrease. The effect was felt in the vineyards too, as growers yanked out more than 10,000 acres of Merlot grapes.

Well, more than a dozen years after Miles’s snarky retort, Merlot has finally regained its mojo. A survey last year found that Merlot is the No. 1 wine of choice by American consumers of all ages, while upscale bottles are more popular than ever, with impressive increases in both retail and restaurant sales.

In fact, some vintners even credit the movie for “saving” Merlot, cleaning out the oenological gene pool of many purveyors of the kind of simple, syrupy, character-free Merlots that pissed off Miles so much. Now you might even find wine lovers saying, “I am drinking a Merlot!”