Drinking with an expert.

‘We make the best Semillon in Australia.’ It was a big call to make, but Esther backed it up by plonking a bottle of white wine with more bling around its neck than Mr T onto the polished wooden counter of the Tyrrell’s winery cellar door. 

It was our first winery of the day so I dived straight in and said ‘We’ll start with that then.’

‘That will be ten dollars.’ She replied as she went to get a glass each for Dan and myself. It was the first of many valuable lessons for the day. Amazingly, after all the wine I drank researching for this post—I go the hard yards for my readers—I can still remember most of those lessons, at least the important ones.

So here they are: Five ways to improve your wine tasting experience.

  1. Pay for the premium tasting deal. For a start, you won’t be treated like a freeloader trying to have a boozy day on the cheap; so you mightn’t get guilted into buying a bottle of cheap wine. More importantly you get to taste the best wines available and the portions will be significantly larger than normal. Also, if you don’t normally spend hundreds of dollars on your wine then this is a way to have a good crack at them for next to nothing.
  2. Focus on the best wineries. Avoid the trap of trying to visit as many places as you can in a day. Focus on two or three of the very best vineyards in the area and do them properly, i.e. refer to point 1.
  3. Don’t be stingy. If you follow the first two steps then guaranteed you’re going to find something you like, and it won’t be cheap. Hang the expense and treat yourself, otherwise you might as well have stayed at home with the Chateau cardboard.
  4. Go with an expert. An expert should not however, be confused with the lesser being, the pretentious wine snob. I had Dan, an experienced wine maker for Mount Pleasant Wines at their Hunter Valley vineyard, to guide me through a tough day of drinking. Having someone around who can explain the science and help develop your pallet will make the experience more worthwhile than just knocking back glass after glass of wine.
  5. Experiment. Wine, says Dan, is a seasoning and as such can be added to taste, as you would salt and pepper. It’s also why you should only put good wine in your cooking. Don’t be shy to try something new or mix wine with food from left field. He’s always searching for the perfect match and watching him do it late Saturday night with the cheese we’d bought at Binnorie Dairy was an education of itself.

Visit some nice cafes and have a lunch stop, if only to accommodate your long suffering designated driver, they are your ticket home after all.

And Esther was right about that Semillon.