Wine on TV – Why it Won’t Work.

Not this crap again!Do you ever wonder why there aren’t any TV shows (at least good ones) focused on wine? I do.
Food seems to hog all the limelight, and has amassed its fair share of personalities: Gordon Ramsey, Emeril Lagasse, Paula Deen, Rachael Ray, Nigella Lawson, Delia Smith, Bobby Flay, Anthony Bourdain, and Jamie Oliver, to name just a few.
Who does wine have? No-one. Seriously. No-one.

But there has to be a reason why food is so popular on TV, leaving us winos to rely strictly on magazines and the Internet to get our wine fix. Here are just of a few of my reasons why wine hasn’t become more popular on “the box”:

 

Wine is Boring.

“WHHHHAAAAAATTTTTT!!!!! WINE IS BORING!?!?! HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT!?!?!”
That woke you up! Ok, allow me to explain myself! Of the 2 wine-focused TV shows I’ve seen, they all seem to be talking to people the same way; namely; “…and tonight on Wine Talk, we’ll be drinking <insert Californian wine> made from <grape>, coming from <region>. It tastes like <insert ridiculously descriptive tasting notes here>, and I would give this wine a <insert points out of 100 rating>, because I’m on TV and therefore I know what I’m talking about….blah-blah-blah…”

The one thing the few wine shows (that I happened to stumble across) share in common, is that they put me to sleep faster than 4 glasses of Australian Shiraz….laced with horse tranquilizers. It also doesn’t help that they’re always on late at night.
It just seems that the people who put these “shows” together, clearly must have a lifetime subscription to the Wine Spectator, and try to get their creation as close as possible to the world’s most boring wine magazine. Wine doesn’t have to be boring, it’s just that television producers (for some reason) always approach talking about it the same way!

 

Wine is just plain difficult to talk about.

With cooking, you’re dealing with millions of different ingredients, and their possible combinations. With wine, you’ve got grape juice, in a bottle, and that’s it! Sure it might hail from different regions, be made from different grapes, and be put through different processes, but it can’t compete with food (from a diversity perspective). With a cooking show, you can throw ingredients around a-bit, have multiple things going at once, have flames jumping around while you flambe, peeling-chopping-dicing-basting-sauteing-grilling etc. With wine; it’s a wine glass, a bottle, and a corkscrew. That’s it. There’s very little to work with!

 

There are no good wine personalities.

There are a minute number of “wine personalities” that could pull off their own TV show, or even just a wine segment as part of a TV show. It’s worth mentioning that I have no idea who those “personalities” are. I haven’t met them, or seen their work yet.
We just need someone that “gets it”. You definitely don’t need a Master Somm (no offence guys and gals), although some wine education would be good (so they can at least win over the respect of at least some of their audience). The main personality hosting the show can be viewed as the single-most important factor as to the shows’ success!

 

A wine TV show shouldn’t try and last 30 minutes!

In my (as always) ever-so-humble opinion, a wine TV show should be a segment as part of another show. What I would LOVE to see, is someone like Anthony Bourdain, Gordon Ramsey, or even Rachael Ray “hand-over” 5-10 minutes of their show to a guest wine presenter.
30 minutes is too long to be 100% focused on wine.

 

 

Conclusion.

So, the question is: can wine on TV succeed? Of course it can! So why hasn’t anyone made it work? Because they’ve been doing it all wrong!
I really believe that no-one has got it right yet. For a wine show to succeed on TV, it needs to:

- Be short enough in duration  to hold the viewers attention, ideally a segment as part of another show.
- Have an element of humor, but not so funny that the viewer can’t take the show/presenter seriously.
- Have an awesome wine “personality” involved. Someone educated on wine, but not so pretentious that it sounds like they’re talking down to the audience.

- Be set (for the most part) “on location”, with minimal amounts of TV studio time.

- Be packed full of usual info and insights, with very little mentioned about the more “technical-side” to a wine. No-one cares (or at least the overwhelming majority of people don’t)! Give the audience the “cool” stories!

 

 

I would love to hear your thoughts…

2 Comments

  • November 2, 2011

    Tim

    They have all tried it but the subject doesn’t resonate. LOTS of great personalities – subject matter is dull and narrowly focused. You can only do the ‘wine nod’ (sniff wine, contemplate, look at another person and nod) so often.

  • November 3, 2011

    Kris Chislett

    Very true, but I still think there is room for it on TV. I didn’t by any means want to make the article about me, but I think the way I approach my videos is along the right lines. Short, to-the-point, captioned with key points, with a little humor, and leaving the viewer left with some info that they can use in a social setting.

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