Posted by Guest Author Katie Pizzuto
Imagine, if you will, an arena much like Iron Chef’s “kitchen stadium”—wine racks, decanters, corkscrews and stemware replace the food staples, appliances and dinnerware; master sommeliers replace the master chefs; and the overdramatic host no longer grins and bites into a pepper, but takes a swig from a Chianti-filled glass instead. The day’s challenge? Pairing wine with, oh I don’t know, let’s say barbeque. Each judge gets served 5 different dishes, each one with two different wines (one from each sommelier) and determine whose vino reigns supremo! I’d TiVo that, wouldn’t you?
Or perhaps in the same vain as “$40 A Day,” an equally jovial host can take us from city to city, telling us about the best local wines, the little off-the-beaten-track enotecas, and the bargain family-run wine shops...perhaps call the show “$20 A Bottle.” Heck, even take a personality like Alton Brown and give us a show on wine that might actually, ummm, I dunno, teach us something?!? Cooking shows and food-related shows are a dime a dozen right now. At any given moment you can channel surf and land on a “how to” a “history of” or a “from the country of” even if you completely bypass the Food Network. Anthony Bourdain has “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel (which I friggin’ love), Jacques Pepin has Fast Food My Way on PBS, Lidia Bastianich has “Lidia’s Family Table” on public television, etc. THIS IS NOT A BAD THING!
My complaint is not about the proliferation of such shows...it’s about the lack of balance. There are no regularly scheduled shows (at least through my cable provider) about wine! NONE! Sure, we’ve been promised a new reality show “The Wine Makers” next year on PBS, but is “reality tv” all wine is worth?
On occasion, you’ll hear a chef briefly mention what wine will marry well with whatever dish it is they are serving up. But other than that, wine gets little to no attention, and that ain’t right! A prime opportunity is being missed, for here is a chance to 1. Educate those who aren’t saavy wine drinkers, 2. Challenge those who have limited experience, 3. Entertain those who are already passionate about wine and 4. Inform those who enjoy collecting and cellaring wine. Chances are that most folks viewing food shows will gladly watch one about wine, too. Obviously it is easy to pick on the Food Network here, but plenty of other channels (i.e. The Travel Channel, The Learning Channel, The Discovery Channel, Bravo!) have failed this sector of consumers also, and that’s a darned shame because the marketing doors are wide open here! Do we REALLY need another show about low-carb cooking, local chili cookoffs, or the art of sugar blowing? I’ll save you the time: the rice is replaced by a vegetable, the winner’s secret ingredient is nutmeg, and the 5-foot balancing act falls and breaks....now, can we talk about wine? Please?