It wasn’t hard for James Purefoy to convince his fellow actor and pal, Dominic West, to join him in Portugal for “The Wine Show.”
“I asked him if he could do it because we were having a scheduling conflict with [series regular] Matthew Goode,” Purefoy, 57, told The Post. “I left him a voice message: ‘OK, this could be the best job offer you ever had. You arrive in a really beautiful, swanky launch up the Douro River to be collected by a classic Porsche and brought to an incredible quinta [rural historic manor] and will spend three days drinking wine. How does that sound?’
“He rang me back and said, ‘Jimmy, this is the finest job offer I’ve ever had in my life.’”
Purefoy, Goode, Emmy winner Matthew Rhys (“The Americans,” “Perry Mason”) and now West return for Season 3 of “The Wine Show,” making its US premiere Thursday, July 29, on Sundance Now, Acorn TV.
This season of the travelogue series features Purefoy and Goode (“Watchmen,” “Downton Abbey,” “The Crown”) traversing throughout Portugal, armed with assignments from series wine expert Joe Fattorini — including learning how Portuguese wine relates to space travel, how it’s connected to the Indian curry Vindaloo and its role in the country’s cod industry (you’ll be surprised on all three counts).
Fattorini also travels to New York (pre-COVID) to dine with Rhys in several New York restaurants and, of course, drink and discuss various wines. Other adventures this season feature sommelier Charlotte Wilde and wine expert Amelia Singer.
“We’re just wound up like clockwork toys and sent on our way,” said Purefoy of his adventures in Portugal with Goode. (West and Purefoy sample wines at the Quinta do Noval in the Douro Valley.) “The Portuguese wine industry is complicated and they’re very competitive with each other. You have to be careful not to tread on any toes and to be very sensitive. Once they let you in they’re incredibly welcoming.”
Purefoy, along with Rhys and Goode, has been on all three seasons of “The Wine Show” but said he still has a lot to learn — and it’s daunting.
“I really like drinking wine, so that helps and I’m very interested in wine,” he said. “There’s a little moment at the beginning of the third season where [he and Goode] talk about Socratic dialogue — the more you know about something the more you realize you know nothing. I’m sad to say that is absolutely true…and I confess I think I know less now than when we started.”
Purefoy and West also experience the treat of tasting “some of the rarest Ports imaginable” at Quinto do Noval. These wines preceded the destruction, about 20 years ago, of vineyards throughout Europe (including Italy, Portugal, France and Spain) by the Phylloxera, an insect that spreads a root-killing fungus.
“This little beetle just devoured and went through all the roots,” Purefoy said. “These Ports are incredibly difficult to get a hold of and almost impossible to buy. They come from tiny rows of vines pre-Phylloxera.”
Season 3 took about a month to film and includes the show’s trademark “Tasting Week,” in which Purefoy et al. start early in the day, sometimes at 7 a.m., then taste 16 wines in the morning, 16 in the afternoon and several more at night.
“That can get a little bit messy, as you can imagine,” he said. “In terms of television, it’s unattractive to spit [out the wine] so we sip. I learned my lesson last season; I got rather drunk…so now I just take the tiniest sip of each wine. We’re not proud of getting drunk. It’s part of the job, unfortunately and our producers are very good. They always give us a couple of hours off at lunchtime to sober up and have a bit of a snooze before we start again.
“One of the things about this show is that it’s not a very macho show at all,” he said. “It’s sort of like [car series] ‘Top Gear’ for wine. I like to think that we put our arms around each other and our audience and bring them close and give them a good hug.”