He says James May needs to be kept on a tight leash, that a lot of people lock up their sons rather than their daughters when he arrives in town and his happiest place in the world is a one of Harrogate’s most famous bars, that Oz Clarke is still a bit of a devil.
Britain’s most popular wine expert also seems to have created the perfect job for himself, as Harrogate audiences will discover this weekend at a Harrogate International Festivals event. Known for his phenomenal palate and enthusiasm, both attributes will be on show when his new tour comes to St Wilfrid’s Church in Harrogate. Drink to Music promises a relaxed evening of wine, beer and music with Oz Clarke and the internationally-renowned Armonico Consort. Audiences inside this gorgeous Grade I listed candlelit church on Friday, July 15 will taste four wines from across the world, expertly guided Oz while being entertained with with live classical music in cabaret style. Oz himself seems a bit surprised to have pulled off this masterstroke. It seems even the BBC Proms might be interested in putting on a similar event. “I’m dizzy with delight to be on stage with such wonderful singers. I’d pay 100 quid myself to sit with them.
“My role is to narrate the story of composers lives such as Handel or Bach or Purcell and explain the wines and beers of that time and region. “I certainly do some drinking in the show, as does the audience. It’s an absolutely delightful way to spend an evening.” After 30 years at the top of his game, this Oxford-educated former actor still shows no real signs of maturing as he continues his life-long mission to foster an appreciation of good wine and beer. Generally held to have played a major role in leading the ‘New World’ wine revolution in the UK in the 1990s and 2000s, he admits his love of wine does create a certain reputation.
He said: “A lot of people lock up their sons rather than their daughters when I come to town.” But, in his defence, he claims there is actually some scientic justification for the benefits of drinking and listening to music at the same time. “Academics have been studying the effects of sound on people when they are drinking wine and have found a 15% improvement if you drinkin the right wine. In a way, my show is part of this experiment.” Oz seems to know Harrogate well and jokes about girlfriends of the past he’s known in the town. And there’s one local bar he is a particular fan of.
“I couldn’t be happier anywhere else than in the Blues Bar. It’s a lovely rough and tumble place with wooden floor boards and rock n roll bands and great Yorkshire beer. It’s fantastic.” Oz himself knows a bit about rock n roll. He was in a band as a youngster and says he might even do a bit of singing at St Wilfrid’s Church. Not a whole song, he emphasises. Star of TV shows such as Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure, the likably enthusiastic Oz still despairs of his TV buddy James May’s sometimes laddish tendencies. “I always have to keep James in check. It’s hard making sure he drinks decent wine and beer. He needs to be kept on a fairly short leash. “We may do another show together if he cuts out all this Amazon nonsense.”
Oz Clarke and the Armonico Consort return to Harrogate on Saturday 1 July 2017 with their Drink to Music event. To book your tickets click here