Behind the Scenes: 'The Grapes Unwrapped'

A local TV show shoots at two local spots — and Patch is on the scene.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to shoot a TV show?

I got to find out as I tagged along with Hank Zona and his crew as they filmed scenes for an upcoming episode of “The Grapes Unwrapped” in downtown South Orange.

Zona — on-camera star of the wine infotainment show (which airs on SOMA-TV), proprietor of Swirl Wine Events, and longtime local resident — invited me to watch the taping.

“We are exploring the idea of doing the show in front of a live audience,” he said, “and this was a good way to test the waters.”

Each episode of “The Grapes Unwrapped” takes a user-friendly approach to a wine-related topic. Shows have included how to pair wine with chocolate, which wines bring out the best in summer vegetables, and how to match up wine with casual Italian food.

Today, Zona and his team were shooting a segment on how to pair wine and seafood — and what better place to do it than at counter at ?

“People ask me all the time how to match wine with fish,” Zona said.  “It can be a challenge, especially since for many people the cost of seafood is intimidating.”

Zona sampled freshly shucked blue point oysters while sipping Chablis, a classic pairing. Next, he mixed it up a little by matching the bivalves with a less expected choice: sherry.

As he slurped, tasted and sipped, Zona explained the reasons behind his choices. His patter was relaxed and largely unrehearsed, yet chock-full of useful information presented in an unintimidating style. 

“The show is a good combination of well thought-out and fly by the seat of your pants,” said cameraman and producer Jim Calabrese.

Zona matched a variety of wines with salmon, sushi and other choices. Then the crew wrapped up at Eden and headed a few doors down to to shoot a short piece on glassware.

Owner Ben Salmon was waiting with a selection of inexpensive and durable wine glasses, as well as wine stoppers.

Zona told viewers that Salmon – whose award-winning kitchenware shop boasts several thousand well-curated items – is “more passionate about what he does than anyone else I know.”

In that respect, Zona and Salmon are a perfect pairing.

Look for the special South Orange wine and seafood episode of “The Grapes Unwrapped” to air soon on SOMA-TV.

South Orange:

     Cablevision      Channel 19

     Verizon FiOS  Channel 44


     Comcast          Channel 35

     Verizon FiOS Channel 24

South Orange/Maplewood:

     Verizon FiOS Channel 22

Mary Mann September 15, 2011 at 11:30 AM
I wonder why they didn't film 'East of Eden' Marketplace?
Hank Zona September 15, 2011 at 12:57 PM
Mary...being a family show, of sorts, we definitely werent going to film "Exit to Eden Marketplace"! a big thank you to Carolyn and all of Patch...who have always been very kind to me and to both communities in your coverage of all things, big and small. Cheers, Hank
Mary Mann September 15, 2011 at 01:22 PM
Hank, I was trying to show off my literary chops with the John Steinbeck reference! You're bursting my bubble ... speaking of bubbles, when are you doing a show on sparkling wine?
Hank Zona September 15, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Mary...your literary reference still trumps my literary reference qualitatively. Ive done a number of sparkling wine primer events....I like doing them because I think afterwards, people have a really good understanding of the different terminology and styles and can navigate the sparkling wine section more easily. I suppose I ought to do a show or part of a show dedicated to it, and probably ahead of the holidays...thanks for the idea -- you may have earned yourself a cameo!
Carolyn Maynard-Parisi September 15, 2011 at 03:55 PM
How about the Maplewood grocery store counterpart: "All the 'King's' Men"?? I would like a cameo in that one, please.
unleb September 15, 2011 at 07:46 PM
What, no Sancerre with the oysters? Sounds like a great show, can't wait to see it! Rick
Hank Zona September 15, 2011 at 08:12 PM
Hi Rick...I do mention sauvignon blanc during the show not only as a real go to wine for all sorts of seafood but with oysters especially if youre loading them up with cocktail sauce or a mignonette. For the sake of brevity, not my strong suit, I featured the chablis, a muscadet and a dry sherry...the show covered about 13-14 wine suggestions for a whole range of seafood...and yes, there are red wine suggestions.
unleb September 15, 2011 at 08:17 PM
See, I should wait to watch the show before I open my big, fat mouth. Can't wait to watch, sounds great! Rick
Hank Zona September 15, 2011 at 08:32 PM
Its OK Rick...any Sancerre appreciator can chime in any time...Cheers!


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