Wine Tasting on Television: “Vine Talk ” Talk Show

Wine Tasting on Television:  “Vine Talk”

He says: We were intrigued by the concept of the tv show on PBS called “Vine Talk.”  

She says:  DVR in action, a few episodes in the cue and we’re  ready to sit down to learn, laugh, have some wine and have some fun.

She says:  We all have Gary Vaynerchuck to thank for boldy creating a new model for wine tasting and creating Wine Library TV.  His episodes are short, electric, smart, briefly educational, to the point and often really funny.  So, as happens, when people with more production savvy and access to stars decide they can do it to0 … and do it better – they make it a 1/2 hour show, add some stars, etc.    This is the part where you see me get confused, because sometimes when seasoned professionals create, they forget to include the magic.

He continues: Sadly, this show is plonk. First off, the format is weird. It’s hosted by Ray Isle, the executive wine editor of Food and Wine magazine.  Smart guy – nice voice.  He talks about the theme of that episode and gives you 20 seconds of background on the region or varietal.  So far, so good.  Ray then introduces a celebrity host (we saw Jennifer Coolidge and Stanley Tucci).  Our celebrity host introduces three additional celebs, two of whom you most likely have never heard of.

She says:   This is one place where we differ.  I actually enjoy being introduced to new people who I might like to know about. They’re accomplished in their respective fields and they might have additional, insight into wine tasting.  But, this is where HE’s former television producing skills come to the surface… get ready!

He continues:  Then a wine expert briefly introduces the six wines that will be tasted blindly, and then spends 10 seconds with a group of about 20 non-celebs (“the crowd”) who are tasting the same wines in a bar downstairs. Back upstairs, the celebs start tasting the wines.

Ray the host, excuses himself and disappears to who-knows-where.  (Are you confused yet?) The wine expert tries to focus the celebs on the the wine, but instead they talk about most everything else. It’s so boring – like you’re the fly on the wall of  a bad cocktail party. Then Ray pops in for a bit, before leaving again. (Where the hell is he going?)

Another oddity is that they have a waitress pass out each wine to the three celebrities but the wine expert pours the wine for him/herself and the host. Why can’t they pass out wines for 5 or pour for all five? Then for the moment of truth, they gather downstairs and reveal which wine the crowd liked best and which wine the celebs chose. And that’s it. You really don’t learn much about the wines and to sit through the celebrity chatter is painfully dull. Put a cork in it, I say.

She says:  I’ve never heard so little laughter while people are tasting wine.  I mean this could be really entertaining.  So I wonder, “What is it that could work here?”  Oh my god – I LOVE Stanley Tucci – he’s one of my favorite actors and one of my favorite human beings.   I would do just about anything to give him more screen time any day and then as an actress, I’d REALLY do ANYTHING to work with him.  You could “put a cork in it”, but I think there might be any number of ways to give the show more mmph, energy and make it relative to our lives.

First off – what’s with separating the “commoners” from the celebrities – that is hilariously bad manners and as we see,  bad TV.  There’s a reason no other talk show does that on TV.

This show treats the audience like they’re the problematic cousins or the groundlings from Elizabethan theater days. “We’re glad you’re here – could you wait in the basement?”  Oh dear.   I would keep the numbers of the audience small, but set it up so the audience can be in on the experience, possibly at cocktail tables but in the audience. To simulate a wine bar perhaps.   The audience would laugh at the guests jokes and clap and enjoy themselves and most importantly, take the pressure off of the hosts.

IMDB shows just one season, so no word on whether it’s been renewed.  That’s ok.  I want Stanley Tucci back to work with his real acting.

Vine Talk on IMDB

3 replies »

  1. Your analysis of the show, “Vine Talk” is both incorrect and annoying. After discovering this show completely by accident one night, my wife and I grew to really enjoy the format and laid back style of the show, as well as the cast. Over time, several of our friends would join us on Thursday nights to watch the show (while sampling various wines and cheeses). I truly hope they bring it back in the same format.


    • She says: Dear Joe, Thanks for writing! Glad to have a different perspective. I’m glad to hear that you like the show and I hope it comes back for you and your friends! What a great concept for being with friends and wine on a Thursday night. I wonder why I didn’t think of inviting people to watch with me!?! (Probably b/c traffic in LA makes everything so complicated)

      Did you write down the wines in advance and then taste the same wines? An excellent good idea. I think I’ll give that a try with some online tasting videos. Thanks for the input! It will be a fun way to learn more. 🙂


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