Watching people drink wine (and whisky)

Can watching people drink wine you don’t have ever be fun?

I regularly vent to my other half about how boring it is to watch people drink wine. And then I go and make a video for Novel Wines where I drink some wine.

OK, I’m a hypocrite then, but isn’t it so boring watching other people drinking wine?

Well, yes – and no.

Sometimes, it can work really well.

Inspired by The Wine Show at Home’s Youtube series, which sees the endlessly charasmatic Joe Fattorini launch into tangents about his friends and experiences in the wine trade, I gave myself a little quest:

Who makes watching people drink wine fun, and where can I watch them?

The Wine Show at Home

Let’s begin with a breath of fresh air.

The last time I paid anyone any attention when they were drinking wine on Youtube was Gary Vaynerchuk, the guy who basically invented wine Youtube with his Wine Library series. I loved Vaynerchuk at the beginning, but the problem I ended up having with watching too much Vaynerchuk is I never had the wines in front of me. Vaynerchuk is an engaging host, but it only goes so far when he’s spouting (or shouting) tasting notes at you.

So on to someone who I think does it better: Joe Fattorini. The aforementioned wine broadcaster, who I discovered after The Wine Show aired in the UK in 2016, is hosting a series of The Wine Show At Home during lockdown on Youtube. It features a different merchant each week, usually with three or so wines to try.

The refreshing thing about Fattorini is the way he jumps between wines chatting anecdotal meetings with friends in the trade, bizarre and lovely experiences, notes from books and journals he’s read or is recommending, and tips and tricks to enjoy wine, no matter what level your personal experience.

One of the best wine lines I’ve heard is when Matthew Rhys, the actor who stars in The Wine Show, says “It’s about weather, soil, grapes and people.” The first three might be pretty key but actually the only reason any of us talk about wine is the people. The wonderful people who make it, who we share it with, the people we recommend it to, the people who laugh along with us as we sip it and reminisce.

Fattorini is always about the people. Even when I sent him some wines from Novel Wines to taste, he calls me up and has a good ol’natter about his hoarding of Romanian artefacts and the time he spent a week with a Romanian dentist pulling out rotten teeth. Sure, wine’s great, but the thing that makes The Wine Show at Home work is all the anecdotes.

There’s over 20 episodes now and usually I’d say start at the beginning, but one of my favourite episodes was with the Red Lion (besides there’s also a cameo from Fattorini’s dog Dino):

Wine Folly

I wonder why my next recommendation wasn’t more obvious before I embarked on a Youtube marathon of wine shows. I regularly use their website as a reference point, especially for scrubbing up on the essentials, so perhaps it was no surprise to discover their video series was as well produced as the website.

With Wine Folly, it’s about education, but done in a way that doesn’t feel pretentious or tedious. In fact, I’d say the biggest issue with wine education from the videos I watched is not pretentious snobbery but boredom. Swathes of winos are teaching us about wine in a dull setting, or with dull hosts. I’m not necessarily discounting myself in this tedium of wine content, but everyone has to start somewhere.

Wine Folly has engaging hosts, keeps the language simple but interesting, and the content is succinct, so you’re not having to sit around for days to learn about three or four wines.

This Italian wine vid is a great example of how they do it so well:

The Whiskey Tribe

Alright, it’s not wine.

But these guys are some of the best drinks broadcasters I found on Youtube, and I discovered them when I found myself falling asleep to wine videos.

Presented by Rex and Daniel, these guys are prolific with their content and you can dive in almost anywhere without feeling like you’ve missed a hundred in-jokes. The pair are instantly likeable and they make whisk(e)y so accessible, especially to noobs like me.

My favourite vids with these guys are when they introduce guests. Their chemistry hits it off in the same way that made the Clarkson, Hammond and May trio so watchable in Top Gear.

Whether you’re super into your whiskies or you’re dipping your toe, these guys are well worth a watch. I started here and then ended up spending hours watching them – you’ve been warned!

Epicurious

This mammoth media channel can be a little hit and miss, depending on what your level of understanding is. However, if you’re after wine education, Belinda Chang – the wine expert host in some of Epicurious’ drinks videos – is a real star.

Chang is an instantly likeable and engaging host. Along with Epicurious’ high end production and various camera angles, Chang makes wine tasting easy to follow, and it’s one of the best process-led videos to educate you on how to taste wine at home.

Little drops of humour – “It is indeed a white wine, we know that for sure now,” Chang says as she pours – lift the video from ever falling into tedium. Even at 20 minutes, these videos are fun and easy to enjoy.

If you decide you enjoy Chang’s hosting style, she is hosting a virtual boozy series on Youtube on her own channel here.

Guildsomm

Finally, if you’re looking for a deeper understanding about wines, Guildsomm’s channel is a bit of a cheat recommendation as it isn’t full of wine tasting on camera, instead sharing stories of wine history and snippets of chat from winemakers, experts and historians.

If, like me, you enjoy the more historical elements of wine, then Guildsomm is one of the best channels on Youtube.

Over the last three years they’ve compiled a lot of interesting, well produced content, but a recent video on eastern Mediterranean and Israeli wines is one of my favourites. I guess it appeals to my interest in lesser known wines, but also I find the whole history fascinating. It’s a good place to start to see if it’s your cup of tea!

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