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Monty Python Alum Embarks on a New Quest -- to Understand Wine

20 Jul, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

Beloved Brit comic actor John Cleese has set aside the “holy grail” for the wine bottle in Koch's upcoming Wine for the Confused DVD, streeting Aug. 9.

Originally filmed as a special for the Food Network, which aired in October 2004, Wine for the Confused follows Cleese as he visits three wineries in California's Santa Inez wine country and leads viewers through the vagaries of wine selection.

Cleese has been drinking wine for plenty of years, the film and TV star said during a telephone interview from his Santa Barbara home. But he'd never read much about it or investigated why he liked certain varietals and brands more than others.

And that's what Wine for the Confused sets out to do, he said — teach viewers how to discover their own personal taste in wine.

“The basic lesson in the show is don't let anybody tell you what you like,” Cleese said. “There's a lot of that going on. You have to find out what you like, then you have to put in a little bit of work. It's not unpleasant work.”

Cleese and the wine experts he visits during the program attempt to demystify the standard wine lexicon — telling viewers how to translate words like “tannic,” “spicy,” “leather,” “tobacco” and “damp gravel” into descriptions that mean something to them.

One longstanding benefit viewers will find — and that Cleese himself found, he said — is that as they learn more about wines they like, they will have fewer disappointments when ordering at restaurants or selecting in a store. Cleese said he personally likes sweeter wines and will order whites or reds based on his mood or dining selections.

Wine for the Confused was filmed well before the hit comedy Sideways hit theaters, but it visits some of the same vineyards the film's characters did.

Cleese said he was a bit dismayed at the delay for the DVD to hit the market, but once it does, he said another step for wine lovers interested in more information is to find an expert they can trust.

“Find someone who you like and who knows about wine,” he said. “They love to talk about it.”

Cleese also said he hopes the DVD inspires viewers to dive into wine tastings to continue their wine education.

“As you get more interested in wine, it somehow adds to the enjoyment of drinking it,” he said.

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