Wine TV Shows – Let’s Tune in to some Greats!
20th October 2022
Throughout the years television has seen a variety of wine shows / programmes and presenters enlightening us about the world of wine. Most times these shows are designed to be both entertaining yet also educational, a sprinkling of key wine facts delivered in between tours of vineyards and cellars or amongst the pots and pans whilst cooking. Corks popping and bottles pouring endless white, red and bubbly wines seem to be relatively favourable with viewers through the years and still today new shows are released and still attracting decent viewing figures.
When you add to the viewing figures those from social media and especially video sharing platforms such as Youtube, then you open up a far greater choice in quite varying qualities when it comes to wine shows. Let’s not forget, in order to be a ‘star’ on Youtube one might not need a whole film production team neither carefully planned out scripts – a tripod, mobile phone and internet connection alone can still achieve millions of viewers (figures that many mainstream TV channels would very much envy) and you can release your content as and when you wish as you are not tied down to booking in airing time slots. Extending things further still and TV apps such as Prime / Netflix can also feature wine (and food) shows.
These shows for me are quite relaxing to watch and are a perfect background for when I am researching and writing about wine. They all deliver key wine facts about the subject / region they are focused on yet at the same time remain entertaining with comedy, drama and at times suspense included. The best wine shows take place on location, the vineyards are walked through and the wines are tasted with the winemakers so the perfect atmosphere is shared with the viewers.
What’s more is that though we have lost some faces in the world of wine presenting, many are still very much with us and highly active in this business sector. During wine tasting trade events in London you will spot them and upon politely approaching them, they remain fine ladies and gents of the wine sector happy to speak with you and even to share a special ‘photo’ memory – Well, we are in the 21st century so selfies over signed photos right?
RECOMMENDED WINE TV SHOWS:
Without question one of the more famed faces of television is Keith Floyd whose focus on both fine wines and food saw his name rise to fame in the 1980’s with initially the BBC TV series Floyd on Fish being released in 1984. Videotapes and books baring his face ran alongside his appearances on television which makes Keith still today, some 13 years after his death in 2009, a celebrity of the world of wine shows of television.
The series which I have now watched countless times and will continue to do so, such is the entertainment value it offers, is that entitled ‘Floyd Uncorked‘ and co starred Jonathan Pedley, MW. The balance between these two gentlemen works so well on the set as they take you through eight wine-producing regions of France including Champagne, Bordeaux and Alsace. As with most of Keith Floyd’s shows, there is plenty of plonk being opened and enjoyed in amongst key wine facts delivered by Jonathan, or ‘JP’ as Keith refers to him. The series invited viewers to have a bottle from that region ready to drink as they watched so to understand the wine better.
At a recent Bordeaux tasting in Westminster I caught up with Jonathan and I was able to put these questions to him regarding his experience of ‘Floyd Uncorked’.
Q: How did ‘JP’ end up starring in a wine show series with Keith Floyd?
“What eventually became “Floyd Uncorked” started out as a gift pack concept (four single serve bottles of wine and a VHS video that introduced the viewer/drinker to tasting and wine production). The chap behind the project approached a company that could do the bottling. The sales director there had worked with me before and suggested my name as a co-presenter for Keith. Having produced the gift pack, the following year the producer pitched the idea of a full blown TV series to Channel 5.”
Q: Keith seemed a natural entertainer in front of the camera, how easy was it to blend into his way of presenting?
“Keith was always incredibly supportive. By that stage in his career he knew the ropes and was adept at leading our discussions of grape growing, winemaking and individual wines. We worked from an outline script, which meant that our interactions were always unforced and spontaneous. It was great fun and I learnt a lot.”
Q: Most of us have fond memories of Keith Floyd. As someone who actually got to work with him closely, do you have one special moment / story to share with us?
“I am guessing that some readers will be surprised to hear how carefully Keith researched what he cooked on camera. Many of the dishes that he featured in “Floyd Uncorked” were French regional classics. For instance, when we were in the Loire I recall spending a morning driving around with the crew trying to find the old fisherman who specialised in catching things like pike and perch – the classic river fish of the region. So although the finished programmes are presented by Keith in an iconoclastic and apparently ad hoc style, he actually had a deep reverence for French cuisine and produce.”
Jancis Robinson Wine Course
A series focusing on key wine grapes sees Jancis Robinson’s ‘Wine Course’ as another of my personal favourites with a very unique character in format. These highly educational programmes not only delve deeply into the role of key grapes in wine production, but also takes a look at the lives of key wine producers of that era (1995). Jancis’s relaxing voice adds to the elegance and style of each episode which Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah/Shiraz and more star in.
Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure
Another fine gentleman of the wine industry is Oz Clark OBE and for me, there was a ‘wine presenting match made in heaven’ when he starred alongside James May in Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure. This series took a look at wine from both a professional viewpoint (Oz Clarke) and from that of a consumer with minimal wine knowledge (James May). The chemistry between the two oozes prime time TV entertainment quality and for me is one of the easy watching and witty wine educational shows available to enjoy – I indeed have the DVD box set containing both series.
Oz and James travel France in series 1 and then on to the USA in series 2 (2006 / 2007 respectively) and we have an almost Eric & Ernie sketch show in presentation in which we can both embrace key wine facts and enjoy the regions and people of each globally famous wine region with a smile on our face. A 3rd series entitled ‘Oz and James Drink to Britain’ was aired in 2009 and focused on alcoholic drinks from beers to gin.
With such a relaxing voice and smooth presenting fluency to the shows, I find Michael Fagan a delight to watch and a fine way in which to learn key facts regarding the wine regions he visits and the wines he tastes. The ‘Discover‘ series released by LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) takes us on journeys through some of the world’s most famous wine regions highlighting the picturesque qualities as well as interviews with the wine producers and key figures. Like some of the wines they feature, this series of wine shows are silky in style and ageing very well.
I took the opportunity to message Michael via LinkedIn in hope I could tempt this great wine show presenter into a question for me to share with you – I’m glad that he is as nice in person as how he comes across on screen!
Q: How demanding was the presenting of the Discover series? Each episode is so wonderfully researched, presented and edited – Were they a joyful experience or did you not have five minutes to yourself to savour the atmosphere (and flavours)?
“Creating the Discover series, while challenging, was a wonderfully exciting experience.
Much time and effort were invested by our team pre-production: researching, writing, planning logistics…each episode required flexibility and creative thinking on site.
As a presenter with a small production team, you only have one chance to record your content and often need to re-write as you go and adapt to make it work. One never knows what will happen as you travel to foreign countries, interview industry leaders who you may have never met in person before, while working with a crew with limited time at each location and with each guest.
We strived to take viewers behind the label, to help remove the mystery and intimidation that is often associated with wine. We wanted our audience to learn about the product, the region, as well as its culture, and lifestyle. I believe we accomplished our goal and am thrilled to regularly hear from viewers across the globe who have discovered our series and share their appreciative feedback.
Now that the series is completed, I enjoy revisiting many of those destinations to take it all in, at a more relaxed pace”
V is for Vino
I’d like to add something young and fresh in style, yet up there in quality and entertainment value and that is V is for Vino starring Vincent Anter. Once again we are taking on, via professionally produced episodes, tours of wine regions such as Prosecco, Piedmont, Sonoma County California and more. These are educationally focused yet once again gracefully taking you on a historical tour of each region using plenty of easy to understand infographics which for me puts this show up there with the best. Vincent’s light and cheerful character engages the viewer along with the chosen guests invited to tour alongside him.
I approached Vincent via LinkedIn to ask him a question relating to V is for Vino:
Q: I really admire the filming quality of your wine region episodes. Would you mind sharing with us just how much work goes into making one episode, especially time commitment from researching to final edit?
“From start to finish, the process takes about a year. The actual filming process is small; most of the time is spent in pre and post production.
First off, we reach out to local entities (restaurants, wineries, etc) about 6 months prior. We come up with episode concept, then scene-by-scene outlines, then a day-by-day schedule. In the meantime, I start researching the region and putting together notes for the scripted segments in the episode. We lock in the crew and travel arrangements.
Then comes the big film week; about 6 days of filming, each about 12-14 hour days. People think I get to show up on set like a rockstar, but because we’re a small crew, I wear a lot of hats; it keeps me busy on shoot days. Once we film, post production takes a few months; organizing the footage, editing it, creating graphics, recording voice-overs, sound, color, subtitles, export and that doesn’t even get into distribution, promotional artwork and marketing the launch of the episode.
It’s a big job!“
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.