Oz Clarke speaks his mind at IWC awards
Thursday 3 September
The International Wine Challenge Personality of the Year is Oz Clarke and James May.
Clarke collected his award last night at the awards dinner and made an impassioned – and off the cuff - speech on the alcohol debate. I don’t know whether it was booze-fuelled but it certainly got the crowd going after a turgid powerpoint presentation at the start of the night. With the wine and drinks industry increasingly targeted by the government, Oz spoke out about the majority of the moderate wine drinking public being penalised by a binge drinking minority. He also made a plea to get out and find a new wine audience.
‘I think that alcohol is about people being happier not being covered in your own vomit,’ he declared.
‘Drinking wine is about feeling good about yourself’.
‘We need to find new consumers - people who like to drink well - and James and I are trying to do that. We were getting six million people to watch Oz & James at prime time and I think we found that new audience.’
While they were filming Oz admitted ‘We would get gormless young people turning up and we’d have to tell them it wasn’t Top Gear and we weren’t going to blow up the caravan. I would like to think of our new consumers are a higher level than that.’
James was in France and so couldn’t defend himself when Oz called him an ‘irritating old sod’.
On my way out of the awards, I met Australian Peter Lehmann who had won Lifetime Achievement Award and deservedly had a standing ovation. He had his trophy in his hand but said it was a long way to come for a bit of metal.