18 Nov Reality series Cork Screwed pops open at screening
Friends demystify wine experience with new show on Fibe TV
Their relationship with Niagara helped two friends germinate a new reality series that looks to shine the spotlight on Niagara’s wine industry.
It was an opportunity for actor and Niagara native Ralph deGroot along with Brock alum Patrick Gagliardi to pitch an idea to Bell Media that resulted in Cork Screwed, a five-part series that was showcased Saturday at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre.
“I work as an actor, and people say you’re from Niagara, that’s wine country, that must be awesome,” said deGroot. “Invariably people would ask which is the best wine and winery which one should we got to.”
“We found ourselves saying we have no idea.
“I know where the wineries are, but I don’t know anything about wine.”
While not strangers to wine tours they still found the experience to be a bit intimidating.
“When a sommelier starts talking about the details it can discourage them (visitors) from coming back. It’s a bit of a barrier.
“There was no fun way to learn about wine, and up until last year I would just drink whatever my mother-in-law suggested,” joked deGroot.
The idea was to be a couple of approachable everyday guys who go into the winery and ask all the questions that you’re not going to ask.
“Sitting back on your couch (watching the show) you will learn a bit about wine, from a Canadian perspective and you will learn that Canadian wine is world class,” says deGroot. “Sometimes as Canadians we look to imports because we have the perception that imports are better, but that’s not necessarily the case.”
And specifically viewers will learn what Canadian wine labels look like as well as some of the names.
“Bell said we like the idea but leave it with us,” added Gagliardi. “And then last October we got a call asking are ‘you still thinking about it?'”
“We did market research used some of the winery’s research as well.”
DeGroot explained that they approached the wineries but with a comedic element.
“We connect food to wine, we have an executive chef that will say this works with this and we will do it.”
“People can watch us, they can’t experience the wine but they can see our face, it’s revelatory.”
Wine can improve food and food can improve wine.
The personas on screen are not like an Abbot and Costello, “they’re an exaggeration of ourselves” as Gagliardi described it.
“I’m probably the straight man, Pat is the idiot,” says deGroot. “We both like food but Pat is distracted by food.”
He describes the show as really light but one with the educational angle where they’re not scared to stop the process and ask what is a tannin for example.
“Bell was blown away with what they got, they looked at their viewership and the quality of production,” says deGroot.
So much so that they have been green-lighted for a second season of 10 episodes.
They both feel their success has been from their chemistry together and making people feel comfortable which is how they differ from a lot of other reality shows.
The screening was for their supporters, in particular the Cool Climate Oenology Institute at Brock university and people who don’t have access to the Fibe shows.
While the network has a short-term exclusivity, the pair own the content and are free to distribute.
Both feel there is an international opportunity for the show, which already reaches three million Canadians, to showcase the region’s world class wines and wineries.
by Bob Tymczyszyn, The St. Catharines Standard