James Purefoy: "It was like Jesus Christ Almighty slipping down your throat"
The actor and Wine Show presenter on the wines that move him, why expensive wine makes him nervous, and the bottles that have seen him through lockdown
"It was like Jesus Christ Almighty slipping down your throat in a pair of red velvet breeches." Now that is an endorsement – and as a presenter on The Wine Show , James Purefoy knows his stuff.
The charming actor – profiled by our sister publication Square Mile here – has racked up a seriously impressive CV but the boozy trips around Italy with Matthew Goode and Dominic West must rank among his more enjoyable screen work.
We caught up with Purefoy to question him on all matters wine-related: from bang-for-your-buck bottles to his go-to supplier. And the wine that wore a pair of red velvet breeches, the wine that moved Purefoy to literal tears on the show? Read the interview and find out...
What was your earliest wine experience?
I come from Somerset and during the 1970s there was a rather loose boundary around the drinking of alcohol when we were teenagers.
I drank rather a lot and at home we would be encouraged to have a 'continental' attitude to it. From the age of about 12 we'd be given a watered down glass of wine with Sunday lunch to wean us into the wonderful world of alcohol.
Mum said 'it was the French way of doing things'. She was also a keen home-brewer. Her elderberry wine would make your hair stand on end.
Best bang for your buck bottle?
I have been drinking quite a lot of a pinot noir called Bread & Butter. Costs about £13. Bread & Butter and Vermentino – those are the go-to wines I've been drinking in lockdown.
Most expensive wine you've ever tried?
Expensive wines make me nervous, because what if they're no good? I have a couple of bottles of Chateau Palmer '93 tucked away that you'd probably pay about 280 quid for. I'm saving them for a rainy day.
I try to keep my wine cupboard full – seeing it makes me feel safe
Where do you buy your wine?
I get quite a lot of my day-to-day wine from Majestic because they deliver to me. Yapp Wine Merchants in Mere are very good. Berry Brothers & Rudd is my go-to if I need something a bit more specialised.
Do you have a wine cellar at home?
I have a cupboard under the stairs; I try to keep it full. I like opening the cupboard and seeing it – it makes me feel safe.
Best food and wine combination you discovered on The Wine Show?
That is a tricky one. I love the Super Tuscans: big Italian reds with any red meaty kind of dish. If you're having a bistecca alla fiorentina, for example, then you'd really want a whacking great Super Tuscan to go with it. A Tiganello or a Sassicaia would be great.
If you could drink one wine for the rest of your life?
I'd be very happy with a lifetime supply of either the above. Although there's a vermentino called Torraccia that I wouldn't kick out of bed.
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Who handles their booze least on The Wine Show?
He knows who I'm talking about...
Most surprising wine you discovered on The Wine Show?
I loved the vinho verdes. Slightly carbonated, quite low in alcohol. You can drink them all day.
What was the wine that made you cry on the show?
Cem Reis. It was like Jesus Christ Almighty slipping down your throat in a pair of red velvet breeches. Quite pricey though – the 2018 is going for about £68 a bottle.
Where are you going to next on the show?
We're not sure yet. Azerbaijan want us to do one-off special. On horseback as many of their vineyards are inaccessible by road which could be amusing. But if it were up to me I'd do Southern Italy.