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Cambridge Corn Exchange to host The Three Wine Men

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Three Wine Men (Olly Smith, Tim Atkin MW and Oz Clarke), photo by Cath Lowe, sourced by Lucy Marcuson
Three Wine Men (Olly Smith, Tim Atkin MW and Oz Clarke), photo by Cath Lowe, sourced by Lucy Marcuson

Calling all wine aficionados, connoisseurs and indeed anyone keen to learn more about the boudoir of the grape, the Corn Exchange will be turned into a wine-tasting palace for one day only on Saturday.

Three of the UK’s most high-profile wine experts, Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin MW (Master of Wine) and Olly Smith – collectively known as The Three Wine Men – stop by, as part of their nationwide tour, to pour the finest bouteilles de vin for the wine-loving people of Cambridge.

Grab a glass and move from table to table to taste from the hundreds of wines. With unlimited samples available – both to try and to buy – visitors will be spoilt for choice.

Jersey-born Olly, 43, a familiar face on British TV where he regularly shares his knowledge on This Morning and Saturday Kitchen, is excited to be returning to Cambridge, the place where he lived as a boy (the young Olly was also a chorister at King’s College).

He told the Cambridge Independent what we, the wine-curious pubilc, can look forward to. “I’m arriving with Tim and Oz, and obviously they’re two very different characters indeed,” said Olly, who also co-wrote the book Drinking for Chaps: How to Choose One’s Booze with Gustav Temple, editor of The Chap magazine. “Oz is gregarious, the soul of the party, absolutely loves to share wine as far and wide as he possibly can, and Tim’s wonderful – Tim has an encyclopaedic knowledge of wine.

“You can always tell when Tim is frustrated about a wine which doesn’t quite hit the mark because you can see his eye glowing red, like the Terminator. If that happens, run!”

Olly, wine editor of The Mail on Sunday’s Event magazine and a friend of the late Sir Roger Moore, continued: “The idea is we open up hundreds of bottles, we bring lots of wine producers, lots of wine importers and stockists so that people can taste and benchmark wines back-to-back in an informal environment with Tim, Oz and myself, available on the floor throughout the entire session to guide people through their choices and to offer hints, tips and advice.

“But we’ll also be jumping up on stage and having a bit of a laugh and doing a bit of a Q&A, and just generally trying to get people to taste beyond their comfort zone – and to remember wine is about having fun.”

Olly said of his relationship with Oz and Tim: “I think we really intersect in quite an interesting way because I’m kind of known for good value, lots of informality, Saturday Kitchen, that sort of thing; Tim’s a master of wine, he’s incredibly well respected throughout the world – he also specialises in very diverse areas such as Rioja and Argentina. Oz, on the other hand, his track record is huge; he is the original walking wine safari. I remember growing up watching Oz and it’s tremendous fun for me that he and I are now really good friends. We not only share a love of good wine, but also a love of the pub and a pint.

“We’ve yet to convince Tim of the merits of the pub and the beauty of beer, but I think we’ll get him there in the end.”

Other projects Olly has coming up include a tribute to Sir Roger Moore, which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on Boxing Day at 8pm, and more Saturday Kitchen. “It all kind of gambols along at a pace, to be honest with you,” he said.

Olly concluded: “I would say the most important thing about wine is to realise that, as with anything else in life – whether it’s books, TV, music, sport – we all have our own personal preferences. Taste buds are no different. Wine is about a personal journey, so the very best way is obviously to taste and contrast and that’s why I would urge people to come to Three Wine Men. But I’d also say a good relationship with an independent wine merchant goes an awfully long way because it’s a matter of listening.

“Recommending a good wine is about listening to what somebody actually wants, maybe what they’re having to eat, what their preferences are, but also how much they want to spend – and I passionately believe that you do not need to spend a fortune to enjoy good wine.

“For me, a great glass of wine, in good company with a fantastic meal, just can’t be beaten as one of life’s great pleasures.”

Cracking Christmas Wines with the Three Wine Men is at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Saturday November 18.

There will be two sessions, noon-3pm and 4pm-7pm. Single session: £29.50; double: £56. Tickets can be purchased from Cambridge Live.

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