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The Wine Show review – like The Trip, minus the existential crises

Nice work if you can get it … Matthew Goode and James Purefoy on The Wine Show.
Nice work if you can get it … Matthew Goode and James Purefoy on The Wine Show. Photograph: Channel 5

I got into a minor Twitter spat with a few people in the wine community recently. I’d made an ignorant comment in a review about wine being deeply boring and some readers took exception. “Only deeply boring if you don’t care about taste, economics, sociology, history, politics, geology, climate, etc,” retorted one, a Master of Wine no less.

I am very happy to be proved wrong, so I’m giving the The Wine Show (now on Channel 5) a whirl. Matthew Goode and his actor pal James Purefoy drive around Provence looking for the perfect wines to match every course of a big feast that a top-notch French chef is preparing for them. Kind of like The Trip but without the impressions or existential crises. It’s more about bonhomie and gentle bants, holding glasses up, giving them a little swirl, then a taste. “Lovely citrus flavours there, I think the acidity is what’s really going to carry it with that amuse-bouche,” etc.

I mean, it looks absolutely lovely for Matthew and James, and Jancis Robinson, who joins them, and a lot of other people, tasting a lot of wines, coming up with ways of describing them (my favourite of the show is “pillowy”, from wine expert Joe Fattorini). But I’m still not quite getting it as television.

Joe drives around Santa Barbara, California, with comedian Gina Yashere, who he tries to convert to wine. A bit like Sideways? Hmm, a tad more pillowy I’d say. Actually, this part is more entertaining, because Gina’s a giggle. It’s a fairly fruitless task Joe’s got: Gina tends to like a wine that’s as close to Sprite as possible, and there aren’t many fitting adjectives after sweet and fizzy.

Oh, and Gina returns the favour, coaching Joe as a standup comedian. She even books him a set at a comedy club in Los Angeles. That takes cojones, and he only half dies to be fair, and ... what’s this got to do with wine? You see! The most entertaining part of the show has zero to do with the stuff, and I have been proved right, once again. Vindicated.

I suppose it is just possible that the problem is not with the wine itself, but that no one has come up with a good way of turning it into entertainment for the ignorant palate. Since Sideways, obviously.

This article titled "The Wine Show review – like The Trip, minus the existential crises" was written by Sam Wollaston, for The Guardian on Saturday 13 January 2018 06.00am

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