‘I had to behave like a fierce school teacher’: Clarke | tv | Hindustan Times
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‘I had to behave like a fierce school teacher’: Clarke

Award-winning wine critic Oz Clarke on what it took to convert ‘petrol-head’ James May into a wine drinker as part of their TV show.

tv Updated: Jun 09, 2011 15:37 IST
Shweta Mehta

British wine critic Oz Clarke may never have imagined it to be difficult to get someone to enjoy a drink he has made a career out of. But when car presenter and beer drinker James May joined him in the vineyards of France, he had his task cut out.

“James is one of the most unlikely wine drinkers in the world. He only drinks tea at home and beer outside — that too only one brand, at one pub. Sometimes, I had to behave like a rather fierce school teacher because he’s such a petrol-head,” explains Clarke, who took May on a wine tour around France as part of BBC Entertainment’s Oz and James Big Wine Adventure Series.

Post the series, Clarke is proud to announce that his pupil drinks and understands wine with keen interest. “But it’s only when I’m with him, holding his hand firmly behind his back and pouring wine into his mouth,” laughs Clarke, adding, “And he spends most of his time trying to believe that there’s no difference between one wine and another, when in his heart, he knows there is.”

With plans to take the show forward in California and Britain already in place, Clarke admits he’d love to come to India too, in which case, he’d like to explore drinks other than wine as well. “It would be a great idea because from the north-west right down to Chennai, the difference between drinks is huge. And many drinks are non-alcoholic too, making it a great watch,” he enthuses.

For a Britain-based writer, he may not have enough access to Indian wine, but surprisingly Clarke has tried plenty of them, and has only good things to say. “I’ve had more wines from Nashik than anywhere else. And although growing conditions there suit red wines, I like the white ones more. I also like what the Four Seasons Winery at Baramati is doing,” he says, listing Sula, York and Reveilo as wines that have caught his fancy.

Watch Oz And James’ Big Wine Adventure Series 1 on Friday, June 10 at 8 pm on BBC

Must-try wines
Sauvignon Blanc from
New Zealand
Chardonnay from Burgundy, France
Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile

Oz’s tips for budding wine tasters
The best way to start is to look at different grape varieties. Just as mangoes and apples have different flavours, so do grapes. The Sauvignon Blanc from Nashik is leafy. The Chardonnay is much rounder and softer. The Chenin has a honeyed flavour. Move on to trying wines from different countries once you know the difference between grape varieties.