Peep Show might just be my favourite comedy TV show of all time. It follows the lives of two friends, Mark and Jez, living in 00’s South London. Mark is reserved and neurotic credit manager. In episode one, he’s bullied by some children, “Oi clean shirt! How did you get that shirt so clean?” Jez is a blithe party animal, that for the most part is unemployed and freeloads off Mark, “Maybe a tattoo, on my chest of me? Double me. Yeah! Feeling it!” As well as the main storyline, you get their inner monologues – both hilarious and sordid.
One of the most famous – and wine related – scenes of Peep Show is when Jez takes his ex, Big Suze out to dinner to break the news that he might have given her chlamydia. When the time comes to order drinks, Big Suze suggests “Well, a Barolo is always nice.” Jez internally panics “Shit. Can’t ask how much. Restaurant. You have to pretend you’re infinitely wealthy, for some reason. OK, flicking, looking. If only I knew the name of any other wine. What’s a wine? Is the one Hannibal Lecter drinks real or a joke?” – before settling on a bottle of Barolo and realising that it’s the most expensive one on the menu at forty-five pounds.
Side note – avoid this scenario by reading my 5 tips to buy better wine.
The wine list panic is so relatable, which makes it one of the greatest scenes of all time in my opinion. But if you’re thinking that I would pair Peep Show and a nice bottle of Barolo, you are mistaken. It’s not that Peep Show doesn’t deserve a fine wine, because it is really one of the most brilliant TV shows ever. It’s that I see you – you’d rather chin delicious “hot chocolate or Coke” than spend £45 on a bottle that, “for wine is…. Brilliant!”
First of all, the dark and atmospheric feels of Peep Show and the fact that it’s set in pissy rain England demands a red wine. We’ll stay in the same region as Barolo too, but this pairing will be easier on your wallet. The wine I am pairing with Peep Show is Barbera.
I like to think of Barbera as the younger and more energetic sibling of Barolo. Why? Barbera is typically produced in the same region of Piemonte in Italy. The taste profile is similar, you can enjoy the same fruity flavours – think red cherries and red plums – but more tart and punchier with hints of black pepper. It is enjoyed younger than Barolo, hence the less hefty price tag.
That’s not to say that you can’t get a very high-quality Barbera, budget is up to you. You can spend more and treat yourself to a natural or aged in oak bottle – or both! If aged in oak, you can expect more sweet and cooked fruit flavours along with star anise and liquorice.
The low tannins mean that you can sustain yourself for the whole brilliant nine seasons of Peep Show without your mouth feeling like you’ve eaten a packet of cotton wool pads.
I think we can all agree that as well as a nice wine, if we’re doing a night in with TV properly, food rounds everything off nicely. Another reason why Barbera makes an excellent pair with Peep Show is that it’s a great wine to enjoy with food due to its fruitiness, high acidity and low tannins. It compliments garlic, tomato and olives, making a great pair with a lot of good main dishes like pizzas and pastas. It’s typically a table wine in Italy, to be enjoyed with cuisine local to Piemonte. If you’d like to find out more about the traditional dishes from Piemonte that pair well with Barbera, Fiona Beckett has made a fantastic list here. If you’re in more of a picky bits mood, Barbera would pair nicely with some charcuterie, cheese and olives.
So, there you have it, Barbera, the perfect wine to drink with Peep Show.
Quick character pairs
Mark – Merlot
Jez – Chenin Blanc
Sophie – Pinot Grigio
Superhans – Pet Nat
Alan Johnson – Riesling
Dobby – Malbec
Big Suze – Barolo
What’s your favourite wine to drink whilst watching TV? What TV show would you like me pair a wine with next? Let me know in the comments!