Interview: Eddie McDougall - The Flying Winemaker


Resident Time Out wine guru Eddie McDougall has translated his bountiful wine knowledge to his very own travel TV show, The Flying Winemaker.

As we prepare for the debut of his TV show, we sit down with Eddie to find out about his new show, his passion for wine, and his quest to take the pretentiousness out of wine.

You can catch Eddie in action tonight (September 12) at 9.30pm with the season premiere of The Flying Winemaker on TLC, which runs for 13 episodes.

Time Out Hong Kong: Hi Eddie! Congratulations on the new show. Could you tell us something about your career before working as a winemaker? What did you do at that time?
Eddie: Pretty much for all my career I’ve been making wine and I’ve been doing this for 11 years now. Before I was actually studying business degree and working in hospitality, then I had the opportunity to taste wines and explore wine production. I applied for some jobs and I was very lucky that I got the job that I wanted and I had a really good experience by learning from very good winemakers.

You are a world-renowned wine judge, what’s your advice for wine lovers who want to develop a refined palate for wine?
First, don’t be scared about tasting everything and anything. If you have the opportunity to try wine you should try it because it’s going only to help you develop your database of flavours and understanding of what the good, bad and evil of wine is. Secondly, explore. Push yourself beyond the Sauvignon Blanc, try other grape varieties from other countries. Eventually you’ll find what you like to drink normally and it’s really fun. There’s a really vast world and you can travel and it becomes a real adventure. Its way better to enjoy wine with somebody because you can have a conversation about it. It’s a social glue.   

What’s The Flying Winemaker series about?
It’s a 13 episode series which is going on TLC and Discovery Channel. It’s a kind of adventure I go on to eight different countries around Asia and Australia and it’s in search of great talented people in the food and wine industry, who make great wines that have been produced in Asia. And lastly it’s about connecting this wine with Asian food. I mean it’s always a big mystery how to pair wine with Asian food, whether it’s Japanese food, Chinese, Indian or Taiwanese. Asia has so many different cuisines and they are now understanding how wines can marry with those flavors, it’s a really interesting topic.

A main topic on your show are the traditional rules on how to pair wine well with food, especially regarding Asian cuisine. Why do you think these rules don’t work and what are your suggestions?
Asian dining is not traditional where it’s course by course by course, Asian dining is more a shared spread of flavours, so you have a lot of flavours going on all at once. It’s difficult to have one single wine that can go with everything. Some people get very confused or they just give up, but there’s no reason, if you have so many different types of food, why can’t you have two or three types of wine to pair with the food? You’ll probably get a little bit more drunk, but it could be good too. If you are going to select one wine for Asian food, and particularly for Southeast Asian food, choose rosé. There’s enough fruit characteristic in rosé, it’s clean, it’s bright, there’s a lot of texture and the best thing is that it’s refreshing. Asian flavours can make you quite thirsty, so you need to be refreshed.
How did you choose the places to visit during your trip? Which are the best moments you experienced while travelling? And the best wines?
The places all needed to make wine or have some connection to wine. A big part of what we did was based on the talent of people, and we wanted to focus on talented people who had a story to share about food and wine. My adventure was not only learning about these key components but also learning about that person and getting to know them.

Has the series been renewed for a second season? What can audiences look forward to in the second season?
We are going to be exploring other countries. It’s not confirmed yet, but there are talks of South America, South Africa – really exotic places. I think what people want to know is, what young cool people are doing in these places. How do these guys find these places to eat out, not dissimilar to Anthony Bourdain with his No Reservations. He goes on an adventure with a local hero, food hero, or a talented chef who takes him into his favourite places, so it’s quite down dirty but real. We want the viewers to experience that as well through their eyes and my learning.

The Flying Winemaker Season 1 premieres Sep 15 at 9:30pm on TLC

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