We caught up with multi award-winning wine expert, TV personality, author and columnist Olly Smith, to hear his thoughts on the best wines to choose on a budget. Plus we hear all about his latest stint at the Ideal Home Show this Christmas.
1. Olly, tell us where your passion for wine first started? At a free tasting in an Oddbins in Edinburgh. I was a student and walked past a sign that said ‘Free Wine Tasting’. I’ve never looked back!
2. Which regions do you believe produce the best wines and why? Today the most exciting two places for wine are Portugal and Australia; Portugal thanks to its wealth of local grapes conjuring endlessly inventive blends and Australia for its new frontier of wine –lower alcohol, more elegance and experimentation with varieties such as Touriga Nacional, Nebbiolo and Assyrtiko. I love the Aussies’ spirit of invention.
3. What would you recommend is the best wine to enjoy on a budget? One word: Aldi.
4. There are often conflicting advice on the health benefits of red wine, what is your opinion on this? It’s all about balance. I’m a great believer in the convivial nature of a glass or two of wine with friends, as long as you eat well, exercise a bit and keep your stress levels down, wine can be a glorious part of the mix.
5. Where is the most memorable place you have enjoyed a glass of bubbly? Gordon Ramsay’s house. We were doing a photoshoot together for Sainsbury’s Magazine and I spectacularly dropped a tray of Champagne flutes, smashed everywhere. Gordon couldn’t have been more of a gent about it.
6. Your show 'The Secret Supper Club' is extremely successful, have you got any plans to make more shows like this? I’ve just finished my third series of Jeni & Olly’s Wine and Food Adventures for the Food Network and Travel Channel which is broadcasting worldwide and looking forward to a filming the next lot. Zooming around the USA from Portland to New Orleans in an open top Mini tasting fine food and drink, where did it all go wrong?!
7. Throughout your time working in TV, what is your favourite TV appearance you have done? I guess Saturday Kitchen is what I’m best known for but I’d actually say presenting on Radio 2 has been the most fulfilling career moment. I’m currently sitting in for Clare Balding on Sunday mornings and would love to present more on BBC Radio 2.
8. You are featuring at the next Ideal Home Show at Christmas, what can we expect to see from yourself there? To meet me! And ideally share a tipple. I’ll be on stage doshing out a few drinks and giving my tips on how to save a few pennies but still taste the best this Christmas. You might even catch me doing my Christmas shopping with Gino. It’s the best place to catch up with friends and sort the whole of Christmas under one roof.
9. How important do you think it is to attend events such as the Ideal Home Show at Christmas? I wouldn’t miss it! I always have a great time, meet new friends and taste amazing food and drink. I love getting the Christmas shopping sorted plus I get to hang out with my mates which is always a giggle – especially when Suzi Perry is around!
10. What does 2015/16 have in-store for you? More TV, Radio and I’m writing a new book too. My latest book ‘Drinking For Chaps’ has just come out in time for Christmas and got rave reviews. My favourite is from Roger Moore who said “Fascinating! Especially since I pop up all over the pages”. It’s a great gift for anyone who enjoys a tipple and is basically how to choose one’s booze!