The wine industry is ripe for lampooning, and for good reason: the vocabulary, the affectations adopted when tasting, the obsession with the arcane … the list goes on, and there is so much rich material to mine.
As funny as the clips are below, those involved in the trade cannot but cringe (as I did, too often!) at the worrying familiarity of the sketches. We’ve all been there, from the grand pronouncements and smug assertions to the cripplingly embarrassing faux pas, these clips
Richard E Grant of Withnail & I fame starts us off with this short but sweet clip in which he delivers a fantastic performance dripping with braggadocio overlaid with pretentious classic music and wishy-washy soft focus, a great dig at many vacuous “Beginner’s Guide to Wine” series out there (as well as at some wine personalities you can encounter unfortunately!)
This is from BBC comedy Posh Nosh, which, despite the antiquated quality of the clip, is from 2003 and not the mid nineties as I thought originally:
There seems to be no subject left untouched by Steve Coogan’s excellent Alan Partidge, and here wine gets a look-in as the eponymous Radio DJ tries his hand at some live on-air wine tasting.
I love the interplay between the two: Partridge who is brash, arrogant, but clueless, and the woman next to him who fawningly tries to guide him in the right direction. Both characters are seen with worrying regularity at consumer wine events:
Speaking of blind tasting, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie excellently satirise the process in this vox pop wine sampling from their brilliant eighties series A Bit of Fry and Laurie.
The last clip, of the wine merchant getting caught out, is far too close to the bone for my liking, having once proclaimed (under duress!) that a sparkling wine was Cava when it was, in fact, Veuve Clicquot. It was served warm at a party, OK?! Hardly ideal tasting conditions!
Finally, the best in my opinion. Frasier is one of my favourite TV comedies, and the Crane brothers’ prissiness, pretension and overwrought exactitude is brought to bear on wine, resulting in a hilariously perfect storm.
Niles is the best of the two here I think – few actors can have an audience in uproar simply by saying “jammy, plummy, dense and chewy” with a straight face. Enjoy!