Thursday 29 January 2015

TV Wine: Industrial

So I'm sitting around trying to get through the remaining wine in my doomed winerack before I can give myself over to the sensuous realities of sheer gin, brooding at the same time over PK's own broodings on the conditions required for drinking wine in the bath, and wondering haphazardly if there are any activities which wouldn't be enhanced by drinking wine concurrently with the activity (with the proviso that in a couple of weeks it'll be gin, that most supersubtle of servants) and of course the good angel of my conscience comes up with the following: flying a passenger jet; surgery; operating heavy machinery; handling explosives; representing a disgraced celebrity in court.

Fair enough. But that still leaves plenty of things you can do with a glass of wine in your hand, a drink whose presence ought to enhance rather than disrupt. For instance: ever since they let you take a glass of wine in while you watched a movie, cinema has become twice the pleasure it was, or three times. Even a film as bewilderingly trite as The Theory Of Everything looks better through a disposable plastic goblet full of knockoff Merlot. So (I reason, briefly) the same must be true of TV, only more so, given that a) you can drink whatever wine you like, not just Dead Man’s Red at £5 a glass b) seating conditions are fractionally better even than in a really comfy cinema c) the choice of what to watch is so vast, there will always be some kind of happy wine/telly interface, no matter what the wine, no matter what the crap on TV. Wine and TV pairings! Of course! Why has no-one thought of this before?

Possibly because, on reflection, it doesn’t work. Seeing a movie in the cinema is an act full of positive elections, subtle mediations, sensibility-modifiers, with or without the drink. You’re not just consuming a film: you’re participating in an event, and this inevitably works both in the medium’s and the drink's favour. Back at home, however, it’s just you and the screen and the sitting-room you’ve sat in for the last twenty years, and there’s nothing to distract you from the awfulness of what’s on the screen or in the glass.

And it is awful, TV, apart from a handful of freakish singularities, to the extent that no wine can actually improve the experience – rather, it intensifies the despair and self-loathing you naturally experience in front of Question Time or Britain's Flashiest Families. So the question then becomes (given that you're not not going to drink TV wine) how to minimise the hurt?

My best guess, based on years of dead-eyed research, slumped and glazed in front of the box, is to find a cheap, industrial white, and make it your TV wine for all occasions. I'm thinking Turning Leaf, Blossom Hill, Tesco Pinot Grigio. The great thing is to avoid all reds, because red wine angries up the blood, which is the last thing you want when you're already simmering with contempt at what's unfolding in front of you. Worst mistake in the world is to mix, say, The Jeremy Kyle Show with a burly Australian Shiraz; you might as well call the police right now and get it over with. Any exceptions? Property and property makeover shows (Changing Rooms, A Place In The Sun, Grand Designs, Location, Location, Location, I could go on), where the will-they-won’t-they-screw-it-up dependability of the narrative is so soporific, such a bromide, it needs some red rage to make it watchable. Also, anything involving antiques; or a Journey Through Undiscovered Britain. Maybe a nice Saumur for these.

Any other alternatives to the zombie clutch of Blossom Hill? Yes: sparkling white. Not actual champagne, clearly, but anything which effervesces, suitable for The X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing or one of those charity tellythons or The Eurovision Song Contest, where your hysterical enjoyment of the programme is always threatening to turn (without warning) into a desire to run amok with a gun; or, conversely, Midsomer Murders or Death In Paradise, some braindead escapist procedural as meaningful as a prawn cracker, and in need of something both stimulating and narcotic (Lidl Cava, £3.50) to get through the alloted time. The only other alternative - not wine at all, in fact - is a good gin & tonic (of course!) or possibly whisky & soda, to be reserved for that handful of imported thrillers/policiers/out-there works of genius, by which I mean Breaking Bad or Spiral or Homeland, those rarities which are so satisfying and involving that they demand your absolute attention, something impossible to manage if you're full of wine, red, white, indifferent or high-end. Sad but true: but good TV belongs to the Spirit World.



  1. That last sentiment is so true. As the less than proud owner of 2 under-10s, for some reason I only get to watch classy TV after 9pm, ie when the wine drinking time has passed... Good TV = good spirits

  2. That is one of the better excuses I've heard for combining whisky + Broadchurch...


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