Wine and comedy are the best of bedfellows according to Merrick Watts: "They're both convivial," the veteran comedian said. "You wouldn't drink vodka-Red Bull and watch a comic; that feels a little intense."
The Aussie humourist knows a thing or two about pairing a good vintage because he's not just a wine fan, he's a qualified sommelier. And his perfect pairing with any drop - red or white - is laughter.
That's in part why Watts' started Grapes of Mirth, his festival of wine-meets-comedy which returns for its fifth year of one day comedy to Josef Chromy Wines in Relbia next February,
Watts will MC - and "Head Clown" - the event he calls "Tasmania's favourite day amongst the vines" alongside a line-up of comedians like Thank God You're Here star Celia Pacquola, Anne Edmonds, Australian comedy and entertainment icon Lehmo, Rhys Nicholson and Nath Valvo.
Watts started the event to bring together his two great loves of wine and comedy and brewed the idea up after spending an afternoon telling jokes in the McLaren Vale in South Australia.
"I was there one day and doing jokes outside then thinking, this is really, really fun, how can we do it again?" he said.
"So we did it. I'd like to pretend there was some actual genuine thinking behind it, but no - there was no thinking at all, just wine and fun. I thought that'd be fun to do, so let's do it."
That Bacchic spirit of wine and fun - revelry, drink and humour - has been Grapes of Mirth's modus operandi ever since.
The event's patrons park their seats and blankets on the grass under and settle in to watch the comedians make fools of everything, themselves often included, and eat food and listen to music, too.
"The alchemy is this: we've got friends, laughter and wine," Watts said.
"As well there's discovery, which is what wine's about. So you're getting this double discovery of finding new comedians that we bring along - and the old favourites - and you've got the new wine to try.
"I don't think you can beat that."
Grapes of Mirth will run at Josef Chromy on Saturday, February 17, 2024, from 12pm to 6pm. Tickets and more information can be found at the grapesofmirth.com.au website.