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Review: The Wine Bluffs at Melbourne Fringe


What: Comedy

Who: Damien Callinan and Paul Calleja

Where: Fringe Hub – Underground, Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall (521 Queensbury St, North Melbourne)

When: 18th Sept – Oct 3rd (only performing on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays)

Running time: 45 mins

Rating: M


A well-stocked wine cellar is considered a sacred place amongst wine tasters. It is the place where the refined palate reigns supreme and where a Pinot Gris would never be confused with a Pinot Grigio. The wine cellar may seem an intimidating place for those of us who do not carry the latest edition of James Halliday’s ‘Australian Wine Companion’ guide. Thankfully, ‘The Wine Bluffs’ are in town to help us out. Comedians Damien Callinan and Paul Calleja combine their years in the vineyard, and their experience of judging the ‘Fruit Wine Section’ at the Rockhampton Show, to help initiate us into the tantalizing world of wine tasting.

Throughout the show, Callinan and Calleja impart their wine tasting knowledge and etiquette to an eager audience. They demonstrate the fine art of holding a wine glass with explanations of how amateurs can be identified by their use of various grips such as the ‘bumhugger’, ‘double hander’ and ‘backhander’. Each comedian has their particular specialty – Callinan reveals the way to oxidize a glass of wine to the music of ‘Footloose’, while Calleja recommends which wines should be paired with a potato cake (a Grenache is recommended). Callinan and Calleja strongly discourage the practice of naming children after grape varieties.

Callinan and Calleja frequently engage with their audience in segments such as ‘The Wine Aura’ where Callinan moves amongst the audience supposedly sensing their compatibility with particular wines. This is followed by the ‘Wine Wanker’ elimination quiz, and the creation of a new wine label by the audience combining an emotion with an inanimate object, or an adjective with an occupation. The crowd’s winner of the night was ‘The Luminescent Janitor’.

‘The Wine Bluffs’ is performed at the Fringe Hub – Underground in North Melbourne’s Town Hall, supposedly the 17th most important town hall in all of Melbourne. Tea lights on small tables, combined with a gingham streamer ceiling, provided an intimate and relaxed atmosphere for the show. ‘The Wine Bluffs’ is a fine match for an evening with friends and a good laugh. 


Review by Lauren Klein


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