As an admirer of Damien Callinan’s solo shows seen in Fringe World previously (The Merger & The World War 1 Diaries) I was somewhat concerned this show might descend into an overblown comic pastiche of wine connoisseurs getting further and further blotto and untidy.
My fears were unfounded and what the audience thoroughly enjoyed was a tightly scripted venture into wine education cleverly blended with lots of Australian/ New Zealand competitive digs. There were unfortunate stories of the pairs’ expelling from the elitist clubs of international wine writers and critics. Good to know, however that they were still hugely popular in Bulgaria.
Having just returned from a Wine Judging at the Rockhampton Show, also combined with a Monster Truck Display, Callinan and Calleja moved onto their own vintage venture, Out Back Wines based in the Northern Territory. A challenging venture not only because of the climate but of the feebleness of the German backpacker grape pickers who succumbed to heatstroke with pathetic regularity.
An interesting marketing move was the naming of certain vintages after Australian celebrities. The Malcolm Turnbull Shiraz; a vintage that promised so much and just disappeared into the ether, The Rolf Harris; a very mature wine but still young to the touch. Surprisingly “None of these name vintages were well received by the market”.
Callinan worked the room with humour and gentle charm assessing audience members on a chart ranging from sober to Kwinana. They had drawn in Armadale at the far end of Willetton but it kept dropping off the scale!
We were then asked to stand for a wine elimination content (a la Heads & Tails at a Quiz nights). The searing questions soon thinned the ranks!.
1. All New Zealand sav blanc lovers sit down.
2. Who has designated red and white wine glasses? Sit down.
3. Who has never decanted a wine? Sit down.
4. Who has a designated wine storage area? No, sit down.
5. Is it a cellar? Or the linen cupboard? Sit down.
The 2 winners both had wine cellars and one an additional wine storage rental!
Calleja performed a totally tongue in cheque routine where he matched wines nominated by audience members to their ideal food. Think reisling and banana saddle pop or merlot paired with chicko rolls (fried of course).
The finale was an amazing audience member, Cassie, invited onstage for the ultimate wine tasting test. She passed with flying colours participating in wine glass holding, wine swirling skills, nosegay appeal (try to put you whole face in the glass) and holding the wine in your mouth and letting your whole body respond to the wine and the accompanying music. “Can’t get enough of your love baby” seemed enough to move all 3 to ecstatic writhing. Deservedly she won a wine tasting ribbonette. Her chosen tipple Oyster Bay. Hooray!
What a great show! There were heaps of more jokes and comic asides than I could possibly mention here. Enormous fun at every turn.
2017 Perth Fringe World Festival
The Wine Bluffs
Damian Callinan & Paul Calleja
Venue: Noodle Palace | 19 Francis St, Northbridge WA
Dates: 20 Jan – 4 Feb 2017
Tickets: $24 – $31