Stephen Merchant – who with Ricky Gervais created some of the most successful British comedy of the last decade – reckons the wine world would be perfect comic material.
The writer and actor, who co-wrote the seminal comedy The Office, and wrote and starred in Extras, is putting final touches to his new film Cemetary Junction, also with Gervais.
Merchant (pictured, right, with Ricky Gervais left) is a wine beginner ‘partial to a tipple of Chateauneuf du Pape’ who is keen to learn and has already attended a Berry Bros evening course, as part of a gift he bought his parents..
He told decanter.com that a visit to a wine tasting in Vancouver during a snow-less skiing trip excited his interest in the possibility of the wine world as a source of comedy.
‘I was amused by the level of nerdy interest, the excitement,’ he said. ‘There were experts in the front row whose hands shot up with questions at every opportunity.
‘It’s a very rarefied world, but they were also very dignified. When people get so interested in something that they’re consumed by their passion for the subject, they become very insular. All that sort of geeky behaviour is grist to our mill.’
Merchant is doing the BBR wine course, he said, so that at least he can ‘walk into a merchant and know what to ask for’.
He also said he was surprised at the laid-back atmostphere of the venerable wine merchant, which has been headquartered in St James’s Street, Piccadilly for over 300 years.
‘We expected them to be intimidating, in cravats and blazers, so we’d made an effort to look smart. It turned out we were overdressed.’
The event, in which six celebrity panellists try to dupe guests and each other into believing their story behind the wine being tasted, takes place at Quaglino’s in London on 19 November.
All wines will be donated by Berry Bros. Tickets are £295 each or £2,500 for a table of 10. firstname.lastname@example.org, 020 7561 7674, or buy online at www.actionaid.org.uk/winebluff
Written by Adam Lechmere