Oz Clarke

Oz Clarke
Oz Clarke
Occupation Actor, broadcaster, television presenter and wine writer
Nationality English
Subjects Wine


Robert "Oz" Clarke is a British wine writer, television presenter and broadcaster.[1]



Clarke’s parents were a chest physician and a nursing sister. He was brought up near Canterbury with a brother and a sister. Clarke became a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral and subsequently won a choral scholarship to The King's School, Canterbury. He later attended Pembroke College, Oxford where he studied theology and psychology and became Common Room President. He played University hockey, was University punting champion, sang with Schola Cantorum, and acted with OUDS and the Oxford Revue at the Edinburgh Festival. He also captained the wine-tasting team.[1]

Having grown up in Kent, Clarke played cricket for Babes of Kent schoolboys and supports Gillingham Football Club. He can be seen wearing a Gillingham F.C. scarf in Oz and Hugh Drink to Christmas, broadcast prior to Christmas 2009 on BBC2.

Acting career

After Oxford, Clarke started a career as a full-time actor and singer. His first job was at Northampton, followed by Sheffield, Manchester and Leicester. He then worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company, The National Theatre, The Old Vic and Chichester. In the West End, he played with Michael Crawford in Billy at Drury Lane, sang Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd, played all the men in the Mitford Girls and General Peron in Evita. It was during this acting period that he was drafted in to the newly formed English Wine Tasting Team, who won competitions against France, Germany, and the USA, amongst others. This proved crucial for his career development.

When a wine expert dropped out of the new BBC show Food and Drink, the acclaimed television producer Peter Bazalgette allegedly shouted, 'Get me the actor who knows about wine'. They did, and Oz's career was about to make a shift away from theatre towards wine, but not out of showbiz. He and Jilly Goolden became the voices and faces of wine in Britain for a generation.[2]

He played the first person ever arrested by Superman in the 1978 film Superman, a terrorist in Superman II, a Special Branch man in Who Dares Wins, and Balthasar in Stuart Burge's 1984 film of Much Ado About Nothing. He sang the baritone role - and Sam Gamgee's song - in the BBC adaptation of Lord of the Rings, and recorded Stephen Oliver's A Man of Feeling for Granada TV.

Wine career

While performing in Sheila Hancock's Dandy Dick, he joined the Sunday Express as their first wine writer. He then became wine correspondent of The Daily Telegraph.

In 1982, Clarke won the last World Wine Tasting Championship, making him reigning champion as the event has not yet been repeated.[3]

Clarke has written several award-winning books, and is generally regarded as the New World champion who led Britain's wine revolution in the 1990s and 2000s,[4] but he is also a passionate supporter of the Old World classics, in particular Bordeaux. Clarke appears on numerous radio and TV shows, including A Question of Taste and The Wine Programme for BBC Radio 4. Recently he has made three successful BBCTWO TV series with James May - Oz and James's Big Wine Adventure in France and California, and Oz and James Drink to Britain.[5] The comedian Hugh Dennis was later brought into this concept as Oz and Hugh Drink to Christmas was broadcast in 2009, and the later series, Oz and Hugh Raise the Bar was broadcast over the Christmas period in 2010.

Clarke stated in Oz and James's Big Wine Adventure that he was banned from the Champagne region of France in the 1990s for having made statements suggesting that champagne was deteriorating in value while rising in price.

In November 2008 a survey by the wine industry consultancy firm Wine Intelligence was made public, having polled the views of more than 1,500 regular UK wine drinkers. Results show that Clarke was the most recognised wine critic in the UK.[6][7] In 2009 he won the International Wine Challenge Personality of the Year award jointly with James May, in the same week as winning the Louis Roederer International Book of the Year for his book, Bordeaux. In 2010 he and James May won the TRIC Award for 'best documentary' (for Oz and James Drink to Britain). He was also awarded an Officier de l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the French Government.

Oz Clarke's written output is now published by Pavilion Books, an imprint of Anova Books. In December 2010, he launched his very first 'apps' for use on Apple's iPhone and iPad, through Anova Digital: 'Oz Clarke's Best Wines 2011' and 'Oz Clarke's Xmas Wines'.

Selected bibliography

  • The Essential Wine Book (1988) ISBN 9780670807314
  • Oz Clarke's Wine Guide [formerly Webster's Wine Guide] (published annually since the late 1980s, retitled Oz Clarke 250 Best Wines Wine Buying Guide, 2008–present) 2011 edition: ISBN 9781862058965
  • Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Book (annually since 1993) Pavilion Books (2007–present) 2011 edition: ISBN 9781862058958
  • Oz Clarke's New Classic Wines, Simon & Schuster (1991) ISBN 9780671696207
  • Oz Clarke’s New Encyclopedia of French Wines, Simon & Schuster (1991) ISBN 9780671724566
  • Oz Clarke's Australian Wine Companion, Little, Brown & Co (2004) ISBN 9780316728744
  • Clarke and Spurrier’s Fine Wine Guide, Little, Brown & Co (1998 and 2001) ISBN 9780316647533
  • Oz Clarke's Encyclopedia of Wine, Little, Brown & Co (1999 and 2003) ISBN 9780316851572
  • Oz Clarke’s Introducing Wine, Little, Brown & Co (2000 and 2003) ISBN 9780316854504
  • Oz Clarke's Wine Atlas, Little, Brown & Co/Pavilion Books (1995, 2002 and 2007) ISBN 9781862057821
  • Vinopolis World Wine Guide, Little, Brown & Co (1999) ISBN 9780316852005
  • Z Cards: Wine & Food Matcher, Wine Vintages. Wine Tasting, Wine Finder (2001)
  • Oz Clarke's Grapes and Wines: A Guide to Varieties and Flavours, by Oz Clarke & Margaret Rand (2001, 2003, 2008) ISBN 9781862058354
  • Sainsbury's Book of Wine, Sainsbury's (1987) ISBN 9781870604000
  • Sainsbury’s Regional Wine Guides Series, Sainsbury's (1988)
  • Sainsbury's Pocket Wine Guide, Sainsbury's (1993) ASIN B000RYL20
  • Oz Clarke's Wine Companion to... – Bordeaux, Tuscany, Burgundy, California (1997)
  • Microsoft Wine Guide (1995–2002, CD-ROM)
  • Oz and James's Big Wine Adventure, with Julie Arkell, BBC Books (2006) ISBN 9780563539001
  • Oz Clarke Bordeaux, Pavilion Books (2006, 2009) ISBN 9781862058309
  • Oz Clarke: 'Let me tell you about wine’ - A beginner’s guide to understanding and enjoying wine, Pavilion Books (2009) ISBN 9781862058651
  • Oz and James Drink to Britain, with James May, Pavilion Books (2009) ISBN 9781862058460


  • Youngest ever British Wine Taster of the Year 1973
  • Captain of victorious England Wine Tasters Team 1980
  • World Wine Tasting Championship (winner) 1982
  • Wine Magazine Book of the Year 1984
  • Wine Guild of the United Kingdom Wine Writer 1984 (Webster’s Wine Guide), 1989 (Sainsbury’s Book of Wine), 1992 (New Classic Wines)
  • Winner of the International World Wine Tasting Championships, Los Angeles
  • Glenfiddich Drink Award 1983 (journalism), 1989 (journalism), 1992 (New Classic Wines)
  • André Simon Drink Book Award 1992 (New Classic Wines)
  • James Beard Wine & Spirits Award 1992 (New Classic Wines)
  • Julia Child Cookbook Award (Wine, Beer & Spirits) 1996 (Oz Clarke’s Wine Atlas)
  • Le Prix Lanson 1997 (Wine Guide CD-ROM)
  • Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Special Millennium Award 1999 (for outstanding contribution to wine education and communication during previous decade)
  • Jacob’s Creek Silver Ladle 1999 (Wine Guide CD-ROM)
  • Le Prix Lanson Wine Book of the Year 2002 (Grapes & Wines)
  • Special Millennium Award, Le Prix du Champagne Lanson 1999
  • Le Prix Lanson Annual Wine Guide of the Year 2004 (Pocket Wine Book)
  • International Wine & Spirit Competition Communicator of the Year 2006
  • Roederer International Wine Book of the Year 2009 (Bordeaux)
  • International Wine Challenge Personality of the Year Award 2009: Oz Clarke and James May
  • Gourmand Award for Wine Literature 2009 (Oz and James Drink to Britain)
  • TRIC award for TV Arts/Documentary programme 2010 (Oz Clarke and James Drink to Britain TV series)
  • Officier de l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole 2010

See also


  1. ^ a b Jefford, Andrew (August 2008). "Oz Clarke". Waitrose Food Illustrated. http://www.andrewjefford.com/node/220. Retrieved 24 February 2009. 
  2. ^ Manchester Evening News
  3. ^ "BBC - Food - TV and Radio - Episode Guide". bbc.co.uk. http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/tv_and_radio/wineadventure_about_two.shtml. Retrieved November 2007. 
  4. ^ Manchester Evening News
  5. ^ BBC Press Office (24 April 2008). BBC Two announces Oz and James's next adventure
  6. ^ Peskett, Stuart, Decanter.com (11 November 2008). "Oz Clarke is UK's best-known wine writer: official". http://www.decanter.com/news/271927.html. 
  7. ^ Robinson, Jancis, jancisrobinson.com (14 November 2008). "How influential are wine writers?". http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/a200811132.html. 

External links

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