The Sybarite sat down with The Wine Show’s resident wine experts, Joe Fattorini and Amelia Singer, to hear fascinating stories from the show and how they make it so accessible, the exciting things they both have in store and their dinner party wine suggestions.
The Wine Show is a popular television program that takes its audience and presenters on a journey around the globe in search of the world’s greatest wines and their respective stories. Joining wine experts Joe and Amelia on this entertaining journey are British actors and charming novice wine enthusiasts, Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys. The show follows the team across six continents as they meet fascinating people, taste fabulous wines and compete with each other to uncover interesting bottles of fine and everyday wine.
“I said no,” Joe Fattorini grins, telling us that he actually ignored the series producer’s invitation for him to join the show for quite some time before he relented and came on board. At first, Yorkshire-born Joe thought the show’s premise was absurd and thus no one would be interested in it. “A lot of people never believed it could be done,” he says. “What actually makes it different, though, is that wine’s not necessarily the hero, the hero is the interesting stories around it.” It’s because of this that Joe tells us people from all walks of life say they love watching the show.
Co-host Amelia Singer, who herself has made a career out of popularising wine, accredited the show’s inclusive, accessible nature and approach to wine to her decision to join. “You needn’t have an interest or knowledge about wine before [watching the show]” she says of the show’s popularity with non-trade viewers. The show’s concept of ‘drinking along’ with each episode doubtless also helps with this.
“Matthew and Matthew represent two of the most common types of people you get,” Joe tells us. “Matthew Rhys is like a lot of people who never really drunk wine when they were younger but get into it a bit when they’re older. They really haven’t got a clue but they’d just like some guidance into stuff they like. I used to say to him “If in doubt, drink Pinot Noir”, then he did nothing but drink Pinot Noir for six months and I had to get him on to something else.”
Matthew Goode, on the other hand, Joe says, knows quite a lot about wine but wants validation on the wine he enjoys to make sure that he’s liking the right thing.
What really heightens the wine drinking experience, Joe believes, is not just knowing the notes and suggested food pairings of wine, but learning the history behind the bottle and the rich, social aspects of it.
“Imagine a ten-month dinner party,” Joe says when describing working with The Wine Show, likening it to the concept of ‘Safari Suppers’, where diners have a separate course in a different house throughout their village, town or local area. “It’s a bit like doing that on the grandest scale in the entire world!”
It’s this idea of moving around and trying different, unique palettes in different places that excite Joe about The Wine Show’s upcoming partnership with Celebrity Cruises, where Fattorini and Singer will be leading vineyard shore excursions, onboard interactive tasting experiences and creating new wine lists on select cruise expeditions this year. The first cruise is in May when Singer will be travelling from Southampton to Le Havre on a three-day trip. Joe, meanwhile, is doing a western Mediterranean trip in September featuring gorgeous places such as Malaga, Barcelona, Florence and Nice.
“I love travel and I love wine and I often think that we’re so lucky working in the wine industry because often by going to wine regions, you see the most beautiful, incredible places,” Amelia says. “I got to meet fascinating people and I just learnt so much.”
Amelia enthuses about the planned journey of her Celebrity Cruises expedition and the prospect of visiting places that she would never normally have thought of visiting had it not been included in the itinerary. “There are all these other ports that are so rich in history with amazing food and amazing wine, and for us, who get to curate the wine list, this is quite exciting!”
Joe tells us that during filming, the show hosts got to do some “astonishingly luxurious things” and indulges us in a tale involving a certain renowned French revolutionary general. “I was given a glass of wine when we were in South Africa and the guy asked me if I could guess how old it was. I guessed 1826…It turned out that I was way out…It was 1791 – wine from the year Mozart died! It was a wine that was much loved by Napoleon and in fact one of the vintages he would have drank! He used to have it shipped to Saint Helena when he was exiled there.”
Although The Wine Show’s hosts have been to some of the world’s most beautiful wine destinations in the first season, they let us know that it’s not all long lunches and skiing trips and that some trips can be more challenging than others. Joe recalls a trip to Moldova – one of Europe’s poorest countries that has been ravaged by political unrest – to discover an “utterly fascinating wine story”, whilst Amelia visited Tasmania and saw the effects that climate change has had on the island.
Despite this, Amelia says that the island of Tasmania was her favourite destination from season one. “Because of climate change it’s very much seen as this kind of lifeline for Australian wine production, so it’s a very exciting region, but it also feels very undiscovered.”
“I just found it fascinating in terms of the stories of the people we met there. It was beautiful, it was haunting, and it could be the salvation for Australian wine, so I’d definitely go back there,” Amelia shares.
Joe, meanwhile, names the idyllic isle of Santorini as his number one. “The white wine is like Chablis on steroids,” he jokes. During his time filming there, he visited vines that were over 400 years old, planted at the time of The Great Fire of London.
Season two of The Wine Show is currently in production and will see Joe taking part in the Marathon du Médoc, a 26.2-mile run with a feast of oysters, cheese, entrecôte and foie gras, all washed down with up to 23 glasses of wine at various châteaux across Bordeaux. Oh, and fancy dress is compulsory. Viewers can expect to revel in Fattorini donning a four-layer “Obi Wine Kenobi” costume, which he said had to be “peeled” off him about 30km into the race due to the thirty-degree heat.
Of course, one cannot sit down with two wine experts without asking which bottles they would bring to a dinner party. Amelia names Pinot Noir as her weapon of choice, whilst Joe would come armed with a Sicilian Frappato red. “They’re both wines that are amazingly versatile,” Joe says.
“You don’t want something too alcoholic, too overpowering, too one-dimensional,” Amelia adds. “Whether it’s old world or new world, Pinot Noir is pretty foolproof and it’s great with cheese at the end of the meal too!”
“For whites, I’m gunning for Vermentino,” Joe says. “It’s a bit like a more stylish version of Sauvignon Blanc. You can get really luxurious ones if you go down to Bolgheri – super expensive vineyards on the Tuscan coast. You can also get great Vermentino from Sardinia.” Joe’s top tip for impressing your guests is island wines – Sardinia, Sicily and Tasmania to name a few.
“Wine: made all over the world, enjoyed by millions but still mysterious to many, including us” is the opening line from Matthew Goode in the show’s first episode. It’s this humorous, honest attitude to “looking behind the labels” of all different kinds of wine, coupled with its endearing and relatable presenters, that makes the show so popular.