‘Le Wine Club’ Is Delightful For Wine Lovers and Haters Alike: Review

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le wine club
Le Wine Club

★★★★✰

At first glance, Le Wine Club seems like an odd choice of a Fringe show for a non-drinker like me to attend. Once the audience is seated with a complimentary glass of wine in hand, our sommelier (Anna Lou Larkin) launches into her opening number, where she lists several wines that they stock. As the cabaret progresses, Larkin lays out an intriguing plot: the Parisian sommelier’s husband Marcel was murdered, and she is determined to find out who it was. Her suspicion is Bob, whose name is always accompanied by a spit. He’s the new owner of Le Wine Club, the wine bar of our sommelier and Marcel’s dreams.

Monologues about wine are broken up by happy tales from the early days of the sommelier and Marcel’s relationship, and musical numbers, some of which feature Larkin playing the accordion. There are enough little hints to Marcel’s death sprinkled throughout to maintain the interest of wine haters, and Larkin keeps us curious about the circumstances of his death for the first half of the production. However, the ending is rushed. While the colour-changing wine is a fun surprise, the plot twist does not have enough impact, which results in the whole production feeling slightly anti-climactic.

Having recently graduated with a WSET Level 4 Diploma in wine, Larkin presents a masterclass in wine tasting. Improvised moments allow her to demonstrate her knowledge. For instance, she asks the audience what their favourite foods are. When they respond with Doritos and burritos, she proceeds to list off recommendations of the best wines to pair with them. While she acknowledges that an expert opinion can be useful—they’re not always just trying to upsell us wine, you know,—she also encourages us to drink wine the way we like it, whether that is expensive bottles, or cheap wine from a box. She removes the snobbery that surrounds the industry.

All in all, Le Wine Club is an entertaining way to spend an afternoon for wine lovers and haters alike. Larkin injects a huge dose of fun and humour into the role of the quirky sommelier, and engages the audience in her narrative. While the pantomime-esque audience participation may not be for everyone, the upbeat songs, jokes and innuendo that the performance is packed with make for a great afternoon pick-me-up.

Le Wine Club will be performed at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose – Nip from 22-27 August at 3pm as part of Edinburgh Fringe.

Words by Ellen Leslie


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