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The Hour - Scottish Television

by Tom Cannavan


Broadcast weekly across the Scottish Television network, The Hour was a lively magazine programme broadcast between 2009 and 2011. Tom Cannavan was the show's resident wine expert throughout, in the studio or on location every week to taste a selection of wines with the show's hosts and special guests. The majority of the wine segments - around 75 of them - are archived here, courtesy of Scottish Television.   

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3 fine fizzes

Three Fine Fizzes

In this episode, broadcast just before the show took a break, we went out with a fizz, a bang and a pop as we tasted three very different sparkling wines: a delightful quality Prosecco from Italy, a fine rosé Champagne lookalike from New Zealand and of course, the real McCoy in the shape of the 2002 vintage Champagne from Veuve Clicquot.

wines with personality

Wines with Attitude

Many people think the whole science (or is it art?) of wine tasting is bunk: "it just smells like wine to me," is a common refrain, pooh-poohing the idea of all those flowers, fruits and herbs used to describe a wine. Here I offer three examples of wines with BIG personalities, that should convince even the sceptics that wine comes in many and varied guises.


Year-round Rosé

I'm joined by interior designers Justin and Colin to taste through a selection of rosé wines, covering a gamut of styles, in an attempt to prove that rosé is more than just a simple aperitif for summer in the garden. We tate an old vines Cinsault from France, a Malbec Rosé from Argentina and an unusual, sparkling light red wine from Australia.


Sherry Showdown

Well, not if Michelle McManus has anything to do with it. Tom tries manfully to persuade Michelle of the delights of dry Amontillado Sherry with disastrous results, though guest taster, interior designer John Amabile gives Tom some moral support and declares how much he enjoys the wines. We also taste a Fino and a luscious, 30-year-old Pedro Ximenez.

french wines

French Fancies

Has the death of the French wine industry been exaggerated? France may have lost its undisputed pole position in terms of UK wine sales and consumption, but in this show I set out to prove that at moderate price levels French wines from classic grapes and regions still punch their weight: Limoux Chardonnay, Cotes-du-Rhône and Costières de Nîmes.

wines for takeaways

Wines for a Takeway

Many of us enjoy a takeaway meal on a Friday evening, with Britain's favourite choices including Pizza, Chinese and Indian food, and of course, traditional fish and chips. But whilst beer with a curry or jasmine tea with Chinese food work well, is there is a place for wine too? I pick three bottles to complement some classic takeaway dinners.

summer wines

Wines for Summer

In a special series of summer broadcasts, Tom is the host in the studio as he presents some dedicated wine features. First up is a look at three of his top tips for moderately priced summer whites: crisp, fresh and bursting with flavour are a Portuguese Vinho Verde and an Italian Cortese, both with only 11.5% alcohol, and a flavoursome Australian Viognier.

pancake wines

Pancake wines

Broadcast just before 'pancake Tuesday' 2011, this episode saw me try to match wines with three very different styles of pancake, from a French-style crepe with chicken and a cream sauce, to Chinese pancakes with shredded duck to classic dessert pancakes with lemon, sugar and butter. Wines include an Australian Semillon, a Californian Zinfandel and a Prosecco.

fairtrade wine

Fairtrade wines

Faitrade is an organisation that makes sure farmers in developing countries get a fair price for their produce, and that translates into decent employment and social conditions for their workers. It also ensures local sustainability and fair terms of trade. Here Amanda Hamilton and Greg Stott join me to put three Fairtrade bottles to the test.

new zealand wine

Fresh Kiwis

New Zealand is well known for its Sauvignon Blanc, but this week we look at other white wine varieties coming out of the country. These wines can have some of the vivacious punch and clarity of aroma and flavour of the best Sauvignons, and here we taste a Marlborough Chardonnay, Martinborough Pinot Gris and biodynamic Gisborne Viognier.

wine with cheese

Wine with Cheese

In this show I am joined by the 'Roving Fromagiere' Phoebe Weller to explore whether wine and cheese really are matches made in heaven, or need a little more careful consideration that that. We taste a rich Rioja with a mature Gouda, crisp South African Chenin Blanc with goat's cheese and steely Chablis with the powerful Nuns of Caen soft cheese.

floral wines

Wine in Bloom

In the week of the Chelsea Flower show, I choose three wines with a distinctly floral character. There's a fabulous north Italian Gewürztraminer, a southern Italian Aglianico and a rich dessert Taminga from Australia. However, my co-presenter Michelle McManus disolves into an uncontrollable fit of giggles that threatens to bring the whole show to a grinding halt!

wine diversity

The Spice of Life

Variety is the spice of life they say, and this week we look at three less common white wine grapes that offer welcome relief in a sea of Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio. The barely pronounceable but crisply delicious Cserszegi Fuszeres from Hungary is followed by the up and coming Sauvignon Gris, and finally a fine Assyrtiko from Santorini in Greece.

Easter wines

Easter Wines

Often a great family occasion, many people mark Easter with a special family meal, with foods such as seasonal spring lamb, or the all-American favourite, a whole roast ham. For this pre-Easter edition of the show I selected three delicious wines which would see viewers through Easter day lunch in style: a rich but crisp white, a savoury lamb-friendly red and a a fine Late Bottle Vintage Port.

rose wines

Coming up Rosés

Three contrasting examples of pink wines in this edition of the show, as we taste an unusual Shiraz & Touriga Nacional blend from Portugal that is bold and fruity - almost a light, dry red wine - then by way of complete contrast, the most delicate of Provence Rosés from Chateau Coussin in France and finally, a sparkling rosé Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend from Australia.

new zealand wines

Notes on New Zealand

New Zealand is famed for its Sauvignon Blanc, but this small country produces wines of almost every style. New Zealand is also looking to broaden its range, and more and more good quality red wines are emerging. Look out for Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, but for now, Pinot Noir is the highest profile Kiwi red. In this show we try a Pinot from Marlborough, as well as a white and a home-grown fizz.

comic relief wines

Chuckle Brothers fun

How fitting for a week when I introduce three terrific wines, all being sold as part of the Comic Relief charity fund-raising effort, and I am joined on the live show by the legendary Chuckle Brothers. Unpredictable as ever, the Chuckle boys are great fun and help me taste a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, a beautiful South African Chenin Blanc and an unusual French Tempranillo.

spanish wines

Spanish flavour

From fresh, zingy white wines to full-bodied, fruity reds, Spain has been on a roll in recent decades with new regions being developed and improvements in winemaking across the country. In this show we look at three examples of new wave Spain, with a crunchy Verdejo from Rueda, a strawberry-scented rosé from Catalunya and Tempranillo and Cabernet blend from Costers de Segre.

pancake wines

Wines with... pancakes?

Each year we traditionally eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday: a feast before the fasting begins on Ash Wednesday. Pancakes might not sound like the ideal wine matching prospect, but then they can take many forms, from Russian blinis with caviar to French crepes with deliciously savoury fillings, to the classic American breakfast with crisp-fried bacon and maple syrup.

miniature bottles

Wine in miniature

There’s been a surge in the number of miniature bottles of wine on sale. They are convenient for outdoor events and for anyone who likes only an occasional tipple, but in our investigation we found many that weren't as fresh as they should be, and that you pay a premium for that convenience. One we tried cost £3.99 for a regular 75cls, but buying the equivalent in minis worked out at £6.56.


Viognier va va voom!

This week we look at three examples of one of the most in vogue white wine grape varieties of the moment, Viognier. Once confined to a tiny pocket of the Rhône Valley in France, Viognier is fast becoming a favourite the world over, and examples here hail from France, Chile and Australia. Also in this episode, I keep going as my co-presenter Michelle McManus goes into giggling melt down!

scottish winemakers

Scottish wines?

Possibly the most bizarre wine tasting ever seen on British television thanks to guest tasters Noel Fielding - "The Mighty Boosh" - and fellow comedian Paul Foot, both in charge of a sporran made from road kill (don't ask!). Anyway, the subject was supposed to be a very interesting one, looking at wines made around the world by some gifted and dedicated Scottish winemakers...


Let's get fizzical

In the Hour's last show before Christmas 2010 what else could we feature, but Champagne. After France, the UK remains the world's biggest consumer of Champers, so we put three wines to the test, from an ultra-reliable Grand Marque, to a brilliant and bargain-priced supermarket own-label vintage wine to the daddy of them all, the Dom Perignon 2002. Merry Christmas!

cwines for Christmas dinner

Christmas Trio

In this show we up the budget slightly with three wines costing more than £10, but they are chosen as three of my ideal wines for matching with a classic Christmas lunch based around roast turkey and Chrismas pudding. A very classy, Burgundy-like South African Chardonnay, a lovely Kiwi Pinot Noir, a luscious sweet Sherry and a very naughty Michelle McManus into the bargain!

chilling red wines

Red wines chill out

Pop star to Opera star Darius joins me to taste through three red wines chosen specifically because they suit being served cool, even lightly chilled in the fridge. We taste an inexpensive Italian Barbera from Marks & Spencer, a Chinon from the Loire Valley, Domaine du Colombier, available in Sainsbury's and a Beaujolais from the 2009 vintage, the Louis Jadot Combe aux Jacques.

beaujolais 2010

Le Beaujolias est arrivé

This show went out on the third Friday of November 2010 - that's one day after the release of the 'Beaujolais Nouveau', which always appears on the shelves on the third Thursday of November. We taste a 2010 Nouveau from M&S which gets a mixed reaction, plus a nice little 2009 Beaujolais from Asda for less than a fiver and a rather more serious Moulin à Vent, also from the top 2009 vintage.

go to older shows in parts 2 and 3