ABOVE: MATTHEW RHYS (LEFT) AND MATTHEW GOODE IN THE WINE SHOW. PHOTO COURTESY OF HULU.
In one episode of The Wine Show, actors Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys serve an Italian couple lunch at a restaurant in Verona. They are playing the part of sommeliers with an amateurish enthusiasm: Goode has his own walk for the role and a speech that Rhys describes as ‘wine waffle;’ Rhys has some trouble opening a bottle of Amarone. Just as Goode is trying to serve the Prosecco (“a glass of giggles”) the couple gets engaged. Goode offers the couple a congratulatory song from Rhys: “Would you like to hear the Welsh national anthem?” Rhys is unimpressed.
“Considering it was a real couple’s engagement, [Rhys] was horrified,” says Goode over the phone. “I think he was horribly embarrassed that a couple had done this on television.”
Debuting this Saturday, August 13, on Hulu, The Wine Show is both an accessible point of entry into the wine world and a delightful form of escapism. It was producer Russ Lindsay, Goode’s brother-in-law, who first brought the project to the English actor. “His mission statement was to de-mystify and take the snobbery away from wine,” recalls Goode. “When he asked me, I said, ‘I’m not sure giving an actor lots of alcohol and a camera is a great idea,” he continues. “He said, ‘I think it is a good idea, actually, and if you don’t feel comfortable presenting on your own, is there anyone you could do it with who’s a good chum?'” For Goode, Rhys was an obvious choice: “He has a great sense of adventure, so he didn’t take any convincing at all,” explains Goode of his Welsh friend and former co-star.
“My girlfriend needed a lot of persuading as to why I should I go to Italy with Matthew Goode to drink wine,” Rhys jokes. “‘But think of all the expertise I’ll be able to bring back for us. FOR US. Think how our wine consumption will change indefinitely.'”
Filmed in a beautiful villa in the Italian countryside, The Wine Show follows the two Matthews as they taste over 140 bottles and experiment with accessories such as the “winesicle.” They have some professional help, of course—wine consultants Joe Fattorini and Amelia Singer explore vineyards across the world—but it is the affectionate, playful rapport between the two actors, who refer to each other as “Goodey” and “Rhysy,” that makes the show so fun to watch.
As a medium, presenting proved a little challenging: “It was terrifying. We’re taught as actors never to look at the camera, and presenting is the exact opposite. The first thing you do is look right down the pipe of the camera, and you can see yourself, and it’s really disconcerting,” Goode explains. “I am more than happy to announce to both people who are interested in saying there is NO danger of me continuing as a TV presenter,” says Rhys.
While Rhys claims he knew less about wine than co-star before filming began, Goode quickly dismisses this: “I knew he’d say that! He does himself down a bit, Rhysy. He knew just as much as I did.” The two actors do agree, however, on their favorite bottle of wine from the series: “Never having been a fan of Australian wine (or indeed their rugby team), after a solid try of their Henschke Hill of Grace [Shiraz] I was converted. It is … incredible,” says Rhys.
“The smell that comes after you’ve poured it into your glass is so extraordinarily of red current and black fruit, it just bowls me over,” adds Goode. “It’s renowned as one of the great modern wines. On the show I said it was possibly the greatest glass of wine I’ve had in my life—I just couldn’t believe it.”
Should the show get a second season, Rhys and Goode are considering California. “There’s talk now of possibly going to Sonoma and Napa,” Goode tells us. “[Rhys] will be edging me a little more because he used to work on Brothers & Sisters, and I think he’s been to Napa a few times.”
THE WINE SHOW PREMIERES THIS SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, ON HULU.