WINE palates and expectations will have to change along with the weather, Oz Clarke told a packed audience at the Kenton Theatre.
There was no question the climate is changing, Oz said, adding he was less sure about global warming. Hail and frost had prevented a full grape harvest in Burgundy since 2009 and rising temperatures allowed the first vineyard harvest in Scotland, last year.
“Fancy a Swedish Chardonnay?” he asked.
Mr Clarke was being questioned by festival sponsor and wine buyer Tony Laithwaite. Both, the audience heard, played a part in changing the wine drinking habits of Britain. It was Laithwaite’s letter to the Sunday Times in the Sixties that unmasked the cross-labelling of bulk wine imported through Ipswich.At the same time, Oz reminisced, Britain and the world were changing: Labour in power, the Rolling Stones, Vietnam War, Kennedy assassinated and Britons travelling abroad. Together with Jilly Goolden, he began to teach the nation that, against expectations, “wine is for the likes of us”.
Oz’s phenomenal palate and acting career provided the platform for his role in changing Britain’s tastes. From the university wine society, he began taking wine-tasting teams abroad.