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The Hour - Scottish Television

by Tom Cannavan

Broadcast weekly across the Scottish Television network, The Hour is a lively magazine programme. I am the resident wine expert on the show, in the studio or on location every week to taste a selection of wines with the show's hosts and special guests. Scottish visitors can simply tune into the show, but everyone can catch up online, as each wine segment is added to STV's catch-up service. I will add each show here once the video is available. I hope you can join me live on Scottish Television or via the web.   

watch again online - part 3

low alcohol

Low alcohol wines

As part of a general 'detox' theme on the show that week, I present three low alcohol wines, from a de-alcoholised wine from Spanish giant Torres at just 0.5% ABV, to one of the new breed of reduced alcohol wines that are appearing on the shelves at around 9%, to a naturally low-alcohol Spanish white at just 11%. Tasting through the samples on offer, reactions to the wines are certainly mixed!


Champagne time

In this show, broadcast just before Christmas, we taste some festive sparkling wine. But rather than go down a more predicatble seasonal route of evaluating supermarket 'bargain buys', we instead feature three premium Champagnes, including one from the small house of Gardet, everyone's favourite tipple, Bollinger, and the deluxe cuvée from Perrier-Jouët, the Belle-Epoque 2002.

dessert wines

Dessert wines

Despite our famous national sweet tooth, it is surprising that so few of us Britons drink dessert wines, either with or instead of a pudding course. Here I visit the Lake Hotel at Menteith to sample three desserts, from a relatively light apple tart, to a dark chocolate mousse, to a sticky toffee pudding, and match them to an Austrian Beerenauslese, a sparkling Moscato and an Australian Liquor Muscat.

christmas wines

Wines for Christmas lunch

In this episode I escape from the studio once again and make my way back down to the Lake hotel at the port of Menteith in rural Scotland. I choose a selection of moderately-priced wines to match with a traditional Christmas lunch of salmon, followed by turkey and all the trimmings and finally, Christmas pudding. Wines include white Burgundy, Rioja and an organic Port.



Ex rugby star Scott Hastings joins Michelle McManus and myself in a show broadcast on November 20th - just one day after the 'Beaujolais Nouveau' had appeared on UK shelves for its annual debut. We taste a nice example from Georges Dubeouf, as well as sampling a 2008 Beaujolais with more time under its belt and looking at an Italian take on the Nouveau style - a 'Novello' teroldego from Trentino.

wine boxes

Wine boxes

'Bag in box' wines had a pretty poor reputation - filled with mediocre plonk and sold as cheaply as possible. But there's a revival of the wine box, thanks partly to environmental concerns - wine in boxes weighs a lot less than in bottles, so carbon emissions used in transporting it are lower too. We look at three boxes, ranging from a cheerful southern French red at just £12.99, to a Bergerac at over £40.

white wine with fish

Fish or beef?

In this broadcast I escape out of the studio and head down to the beautiful setting of the Lake Hotel at the Port of Menteith in Perthshire. In the dining room I taste through two delicious dishes based around fish and beef to test out the adage of white wine with fish; red wine with meat, trying different wines to see how they match - especially when considering the accompaniements to the dishes.


Chenin Blanc

Actress Barbara Rafferty joins us in the studio to taste through three examples of the Chenin Blanc grape. Chenin's home is the central part of the Loire Valley, but there is a lot planted in South Africa too, where one in five vines is Chenin Blanc. We taste two excellent Cape examples from Boschendal and Springfontein estates, then move to the Loire for a delicious and just off-dry Vouvray.



Though many of the world's most renowned wine grapes originated in France, there are a huge number of interesting grapes that are native to other European countries too, including Italy, Portugal, Greece and germany. Spain's most famous native grape is undoubtedly Tempranillo, the main player in Rioja and other famous regions. But Tempranillo is finding lots of fans in California, Argentina and Australia too.



Semillon is another one of wine's unsung heroes in many ways, being one of the key components in Sauternes and the famous white Bordeaux of the Graves, as well as being a major player across Australia, from the Semillon / Sauvignon blends of Margaret River to the fine Semillons, both sweet and dry, in the Hunter and Barossa valleys. Here, three Aussie examples are tried and tested.

cabernet sauvignon

Cabernet with Clarke Peters

A fun week with Carol Smilie and legendary American actor Clarke Peters (The Wire, Damages) joining myself and regular host Stephen Jardine to taste Cabernet sauvignon. The wines included a special parcel just sourced by Majestic at a bargain price, a fine Languedoc Cabernet from Asda and a teriffic Margaret River blend of Cabernet and Merlot from Corney & Barrow that slipped down a treat.

aromatic varieties

Aromatic varieties

This week I aks the shows guest host Michelle McManus and comedy actor Tony Roper to try a little experiment involving basil leaves, that proves just how important our noses are not only to our sense of smell, but to our sense of taste too. We also try three particularly aromatic wines, including a southern French Muscat, and Alsace Gewürztraminer and a Torrontes from Argentina.



In this show I present three wines made from the Grenache grape - a variety that rarely gets the limelight in France or Spain, where it is an important component of wines like Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Priorato. There is one wine from Spain (where the grape is known as Garnacha) and two from Australia: one dry red wine from McLaren Vale and a delicious ten year old tawny fortified wine from Grant Burge.

organic wine

Going green

In this episode legendary music maker and ex-manager of the Sex Pistols, Malcolm MacLaren, joins myself and show's co-host for the week, Jenni Falconer, to taste organic and vegetarian-friendly wines. Malcolm has strong opinions on what he likes and doesn't like, and takes me to task for my choices: a cheap party fizz from Aldi, Australian Fiano and an organic Chianti from Marks & Spencer.


Pinot Grigio and Gris

One of the hottest tickets of the moment in terms of white wine sales, particularly by the glass in pubs, restaurants and bars, Italy's Pinot Grigio can be sublime stuff, but all too often it is pretty bland and 'safe' rather than exciting. Here I present three Pinot Grigios/Gris from Romania, New Zealand and Alsace, to show the surprising diversity of styles that are possible with this grape variety.


Merlot and more with Lulu

Singer Lulu joins us in the studio to taste through a range of Merlot wines. Merlot can reach the highest heights of fine wine, but can also make quite bland reds that are inoffensive, but also rather unremarkable. So I have selected just one classic Merlot-dominated Bordeaux, but also a more unsual Merlot/Riesling blend and a wine made from Merlot's long-lost cousin, Carmenère.


Riesling Rennaissance

Singer Michel McManus and Taggart star John Michie join me to taste through three rieslings, ranging in style from the bone-dry to the lusciously sweet. Many people still discount Riesling, based on recollections of cheap Liebfraumilch and Piesporter from the 1970s. Tom explains that this is a case of mistaken identity, and the tasting of these wines produces two instant converts to the Riesling cause.


Pinot Noir

Best-selling author Fidelma Cook joins us on the show where she obviously enjoys tasting through three Pinot Noirs with us. The wines this week represent different styles of Pinot, and come from The Loire Valley, Burgundy and Victoria in Australia. We also discuss serving temperature for red wines and dispel the myth that 'room temperature' is always best for red wines.



Sales of rosé wine continue to soar, so with the warm summer weather making for perfect pink conditions, in this episode I explain how rosé is made and look at three examples, from an off-dry glugger in Marks & Spencer that's on offer at a £4.66, to a more expensive but beautiful, pale Provence example, to a cracking value sparkling wine from Australia that's the perfect summer garden party fizz.


Chardonnay revival

Guest presenter Kaye Adams joins me in the studio. In the 1990s 'Chardy' became the nation's favourite tipple, as we lapped up those big, fruity, vanilla-licked examples from Australia. But Chardonnay's ubiquity inevitably led to a backlash and the formation of the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) club. I start the revival with two fine, inexpensive examples, plus an alternative suggestion.


Syrah and Shiraz

This week's guest presenter, Real Radio breakfast DJ Cat Harvey, joins us for a look at Syrah and Shiraz. Wines under the spotlight are the Casillero Del Diablo Shiraz from Chile, a Vacqueyras from Domaine de la Garrique in the Rhône Valley that has the structure to age, and a Shiraz and Viognier blend from Yalumba in Australia in the mould of the Côte-Rôtie wines of the northern Rhône.

the-hour-sauvignon blanc (10K)   

Sauvignon Blanc

Guest presenter actress Dawn Steele joins us to taste through a selection of wines based around the Sauvignon Blanc grape. We kick off with a classic Loire Valley wine, before sampling an unsual barrel-fermented Sauvignon from Matahiwi Estate in Canterbury New Zealand. Finally, we sample a Verdejo wine from the cool uplands of Rueda in Spain that shares many Sauvignon characteristics.

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Restaurant wine lists

With wine lists often containing hundreds of wines ranging in price from a few pounds to a few hundred, and having to choose a wine to match with the food ordered, being responsible for choosing the wine from a restaurant list can be a daunting prospect. In this segment I offer a few words of advice on taking the stress out of ordering wine, and on the dreaded "would you like to try the wine" tasting ritual.

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Basic wine tasting 101

Absolutely not an attempt to turn the show's viewers into professional wine tasters, more an introduction to the basics of tasting wine, from the appropriate glassware to use to the elements of assessing a wine. The purpose is to stress that taking just a few seconds to think about each wine before you knock it back, can help build a much better understanding of your own wine tastes.

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Supermarket wines

The plain fact is that the vast majority of people only ever buy wine in one place, and that's their usual supermarket as part of the weekly shop. Whilst stressing that independent and online merchants can offer advice and interesting wines, this segment discusses supermarket pricing, the truth behind discounted wines, the cost of duty and tax on each bottle and how to buy wisely.

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Sparkling wine with Biggins

In this pilot programme, I am joined by the show's main guest Christopher Biggins to taste through a small range of fascinating sparkling wines, starting with an upmarket Prosecco from Bisol, followed by an unusual sparkling Spanish red wine made from Monastrell by Scottish winemaker Pamela Geddes, and rounding off with the fine reserve Champagne from the house of Philliponnat.

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go to latest shows in part 1