A few weeks ago I got an interesting email asking me if I'd consider reviewing the DVD box set of a miniseries about wine, Uncorked: Wine Made Simple. The series was hosted by Ted Allen of Queer Eye fame, who also happens to be a Clinton Hill resident. A TV show with a Clinton Hillite talking about wine? Sign me up!
A few days later we got the DVDs along with a fun little branded corkscrew. We couldn't rightly watch the show without suitable refreshment, so we opened a Sinksey pinot that my brother got me for my birthday this year. The wine was fantastic, and the show turned out to be just as good.
It's divided into six episodes, each covering wine from a different region. Each episode is 30 minutes, so you're not getting a ton of depth here, but that's not really the idea. It's a very broad, relatively simple introduction to wine and the world of wine drinking, and it's just informative enough to be entertaining for both the novice and the afficionado.
The first episode is a general introduction to the world of wine, and would make a great setpiece on its own. It's a brief overview of wine drinkers and producers, and is a fitting gateway into the rest of the series. Later episodes cover the Napa Valley, Sonoma, the Central Coast (of California), and France. I would have liked to see less California and more exploration of old-world wine regions, but that's just personal preference. Spending three hours with Ted talking about California and France is pretty great as it is.
It's not without its pretentious side, but let's be honest, it's a show about wine. Of course it's going to be somewhat pretentious. While most things are explained well, there are sometimes terms or concepts that are tossed about that might seem a little obtuse to the novice oenophile. This was most apparent in the first episode, owing I think to how little time it has to cover so much ground. Later episodes have more room to breathe. The second episode in particular is a lot of fun, giving a great history of the Paris wine tasting that put California on the map.
There's a lot of beautiful imagery and a lot of really great information. If you want an easy way to start learning about wine, or if you already love wine and want to bask in an undemanding journey through California and France, consider picking this up. I guarantee that you'll be anxious to head down to one of our great local wine shops and pick up a few bottles.
Uncorked: Wine Made Simple
Hosted by Ted Allen
DVD Box Set: 3 discs, 6 episodes
Running Time: 180 minutes