20 Dec 2013

Why does wine on TV make geeks angry?

The BBC showed a programme last night called The 12 Drinks of Christmas, presented by brothers-in-law Giles Coren and Alexander Armstrong. I thought it was quite good.

This is a rare thing, a TV programme about alcohol. Surprisingly so, given how much time and money Brits devote to booze.

But one thing's for certain: every single time wine or beer is in the mainstream media, a backlash from experts and enthusiasts will follow.

Keeping an eye on Twitter as the programme went out, many (but not all) wine people were critical of the show.

Exactly the same thing happens with beer whenever it appears in papers or on TV.

They're talking about Blue Moon and craft beer! the beer people laugh. He said Bollinger is the best you'll get for £35! the coloured trouser wearers scoff. And so on.

(I even saw one comment last night bemoaning the fact beer wasn't covered on 12 Drinks, so you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Though it was a fair comment actually. And interestingly it was suggested beer may've been excluded to avoid conflict with Armstrong's Shepherd Neame advertising deal.)

Why do these shows come in for such criticism? Does it come from a genuine desire for the information to be accurate? Maybe. Or is it a kneejerk response by geeks to separate themselves from the rest; to say I know more than this mainstream show.

I thought The 12 Drinks of Christmas did its job pretty well - it was entertaining enough and there was enough info to get people thinking more about what they taste. Surely this is the important thing for a non-specialist audience: as long as the basic info is accurate, the main point is to entertain, get people into good drinks to begin with, trigger something, and the bigger story can come later if they want it.

As has been said before, you don't have to be serious about something to be serious about something. Maybe sometimes, experts feel threatened by the masses discovering their niche interest, much like an indier-than-thou music geek realising their undiscovered band has gone mainstream.


  1. I reckon the enthusiasts all have their ideal TV show in their heads. When something that could have been it, but isn't, comes on, there's a painful dissonance and a resulting howl of rage.

  2. I thought it was good too. If people were slagging it off for being overly-simple then why were they watching it at all!? They're clearly not the target market for the show.

    In fact, they should be thanking the BBC for introducing a new audience to wine as they will develop their knowledge and become the discerning palates of tomorrow.