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Oz Clarke - wine ready for a shake-up

Published:  16 June, 2016

Wine critic, writer and broadcaster Oz Clarke had his eyes firmly fixed on the audience at the inaugural evening of Regent's Park Taste of London last night.

Working the crowd at the Celebrity Cruises installation, he was leading a tasting surrounded by a mixture of "hipsters and cruise-lovers" who seemed to be hanging on his every word.

However, Clarke says that the audience was listening to parts of his repartee more intently than others.

"When I started talking about craft gin and craft beer, everyone lit up, compared with when I was talking about wine," he said.

"The ethos of craft has really taken off. In Britain we've been doing craft for years but it took the Americans to put the word 'craft' on it. Now you can have craft in anything from craft gin and beer to craft sausages. But wine has really fallen behind."

A prolific wine writer, Clarke insists he is as interested in beer and spirits as he is in - a holistic approach the drinks industry at large. 

But in an industry where companies vote with their sales figures rather than engaging with consumers, Clarke says the best thing the winemakers can do is get up close and personal.

"You have to listen because each crowd is different," he said. "Earlier on there were lots of people who just love cruises - it's what makes them tick. But then later on we had the hipster crowd. It shows that wine is appealing to all ages but they want more."

He added: "Winemakers have completely forgotten that we're supposed to be making a drink that should be drunk and enjoyed. It's a distortion and perversion of what wine is supposed to be. I'm hoping that in the next five to ten years there will be a move against all these beasts of wine that no one drinks."

Clarke is currently the wine ambassador for Celebrity Cruises, which currently has a 500-wine strong collection, making them one of the largest range of wines at sea.