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Theatre wine slammed by Dr Who writer

Sherlock and Dr Who writer Steven Moffat has slammed theatre wines, telling an audience at the Hay Festival that intervals are “stupid” and force people to drink “the worst red wine”.

The Scottish television writer and producer, who is currently completing final year as a writer and showrunner of the popular BBC series Dr Who and who was speaking at the literary festival, said that he didn’t think intervals were necessary, according to a report in The Telegraph.

He described them as “a stupid idea”.

“Don’t stop in the middle of a show and send the audience to a terrible bar,” he is reported to have said.

“That really spoils the evening when they stop the show and give you the worst red wine you have ever drunk in a crowd of people who just want the show to keep going.”

“Stop having intervals and let people go to a decent restaurant afterwards,” he said.

However over the last few years, the offering in bars at events have seen something of a renaissance, much of it on the back of growing popularity of outdoor festivals, which has helped boost choice across the board at sporting, musical and theatrical events. This has seen an increasing offer of wines, beers and spirits available along with better food and companies such as Conviviality’s Peppermint and the Wandering Wine Company have specialised in catering for these pop-up events. But has this change followed in the theatre, or are theatre-goers being short-changed, as Moffat suggests?

Jascots’ head of client development Becky Lown said there was a great opportunity for drinks businesses and suppliers to boost the quality of wines in theatres further, which could tap into the rising customer interest in, and knowledge of, wines.

There had, she said, been progress in the sector. Jascots has been working as the wine partner for the Royal National Theatre for the last 5 years, during which time it has seen “huge success” in their wine category, Lown said, with the theatre embracing greater innovation, being more open to new things, and ensuring better staff training to ensure theatre staff were engaged with wine lists across the different bars and restaurants in the venue.

“While I can’t speak for all theatres, we have definitely seen the quality and offering of the wine at the National Theatre increase and they’re quite innovative in their approach to their wine offering,” she said. “They are very receptive to new ideas in the wine category, having recently been the first people to install English wine on tap in the venue. They are always looking at ways the category can improve, increase their offering for consumers and ensure that they have the best possible wines on their list. We have seen year-on-year growth of the wines sales there of 10%.

“There is definitely an opportunity to improve the wine offering at theatres – we have seen success at the National Theatre, of people not just buying the ‘house wines’ but good, quality wines that are a bit different, such as English Pinot Noir and Verdejo.

According to Borough Wines’ marketing director Corinna Pike, independent wine merchants and wholesalers need to continue to think ‘outside the box” in terms of where drinks are served – and to meet the needs of those venues. Speaking to db 18 months ago, before the relaunch of the wholesale business, she said Borough Wines had seen an opportunity to grow the wholesale businesses by embracing new opportunities.

“Our wholesale business has been growing and we are looking to branch out,” she said. “There are lots of avenues that we haven’t explored yet, like theatres and cinemas – it’s about thinking outside the box and looking at where wine is drunk.”

And as The Telegraph’s wine critic Victoria Moore pointed out in an article back in 2012, the situation whereby theatres offered “painfully expensive”, “Awful Chardonnay or Awful Pinot Grigio” and “never mind how much it costs, still less what it tastes like” purely because the management “know they have a captive audience”, had been crying out for change.

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