Thursday, 14 July 2016 22:19

How to taste wine in 8 steps

Learning how to taste wine properly is the best way to get the absolute most of your wine experience. And the more you taste the better taster you become. Who can argue with that?

There is no need to be overwhelmed, or to remember a jumble of technical words…. Instead, here are eight simple tips to help anyone taste wine like a pro.

Look

Don’t pick the glass up and drink straight away.

Instead hold the glass up to the light, or against a pale background, to get a good look at the colour and clarity.

Most wine is pretty clear, unless the winemaker has intentionally skipped using a clarifying agent to remove the naturally occurring haze.

Swirl away

Tilt and swirl the glass delicately to get some air into the wine and release some of those smells you’re going to want to sniff at the next step.

By swirling wine you also get to create ‘legs’ up the glass – depending on how quickly, or slowly this disappears is a great indicator of the level of alcohol or sweetness.

A big heavy red, for example, will had big legs which almost coat the glass.

Get nosey

Stick your nose right in there and give it a great big sniff. What does it smell like? Floral? Acidic? Fresh?

Drink up

Take a good mouthful of wine but do not immediately swallow it. Try to let the wine coat your entire mouth as it helps you taste it better. Does it feel heavy or light? Oaky or sharp? Or it is tannic, which makes your mouth furry like a cup of tea?

Now swish

Slowly swish it around your tongue and teeth. You can try inhaling some more air but just don’t dribble or make loud gross slurping noises. This really helps to bring out the wine flavours.

Spit or swallow

Either is fine.

Hardcore wine tasters in the wine trade have to spit, else they’d be drunk the entire time, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun!

The aftertaste

The longer the overall flavour stays in your mouth, the better the overall quality of the wine. Savor enjoy, and start again.

What to avoid 

DON’T:

Pretend to like all the wines as the winemaker will have no idea where your tastebuds lie.

Grab a bottle and help yourself

Smoke or wear strong perfume

And what NOT to do or say when tasting a wine:

“I’ll say when.”

“Is that all I get.”

“Yuk”, or something along those lines. It’s just plain rude!

Who doesn’t love an amazing glass of Aussie Cabernet Sauvignon?!

Often considered one of the finest red grapes, Australian-made Cabernet Sauvignon is incredibly diverse given the extreme differences in climates across the vast country, which is just a massive win for all of us that call this wonderful country ‘home’.

We’ve got  the medium to cool regions like Margaret River and Coonawarra where, the wines are usually powerfully flavored with lashings of dark berries. Down in the cool climate Yarra Valley this wine resembles a more elegant and refined version while over in the drier McLaren Vale and Orange wine regions. the Cabernet Sauvignon has a dark, deep berry flavor complemented by chocolate.

In short, there are so many varieties of this wine, from so many different areas that any wine lover could spend years solely dedicated to exploring and comparing them all.

But here are our top five favorites – for which The Wine Pig offers the wines and their producers a big hearty congratulations.

For the Cabernet Sauvignon lover in all of us.

Patina, Orange – 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a fine example of how fantastic a great Cabernet Sauvignon can be. It’s rich and deliciously smooth with elegant ripe blackberry and blackcurrant notes finely balanced with hints of chocolate and tobacco thanks to the complexities from barrel ageing.

Eagles Rest, Margaret River – 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Yet another desperately delicious wine, Eagles Rest’s Cabernet Sauvignon is extremely difficult not to fall in love with. Packed full with red berries, leafy tobacco notes and a hint of floral aromatics, this wine is powerful and intense while still maintaining its dignified elegance. And it demands respect.

Ross Hill, Orange – 2013 Tom + Harry Cabernet Sauvignon

The grapes for Ross Hill’s version of this wonderful varietal grow at a 750 metre altitude and benefit from time spent in French oak barrels to bring out their woody cedar notes. It has a fantastic balance between fruitiness and spiciness with plenty of bright berries and hints of spice. Utterly delicious.

Train Trak/Zonzo Estate, Yarra Valley – 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

A standout from the recently halted Train Trak range. The medium-bodied wine is very deep crimson in colour and is packed full to the brim with deep juicy berry flavours which are balanced on an elegant and silky finish with fine grained tannins. It is exceptional and we’re excited to see, and taste, how Zonzo Estate’s new offerings compare.

Talavera Grove, Orange – 2011 Carillion Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon

Located on the slopes of Mt Canobolas in Orange, these Cabernet Sauvignon grapes benefit hugely from the volcanic soil, giving it a subtle smoky oak flavour complemented by plenty of juicy blackcurrant which makes it smooth and so amazingly wonderful to sip on glass, after glass, after glass…. after glass…

The Mitchell family moved to South Australia’s Clare Valley when the property was a dairy, an orchard and a small patch of vineyard. After being born and growing up on the family vineyard, Andrew left to study wine science in the late 70s, a move which has driven the vineyard’s winemaking philosophies today.

Around 40 or so years later the family operating has welcomed the third generation of Mitchell’s to grow up on the vineyard and it’s this family-orientated ideology which really comes through in in balanced and elegant wine.

And now it is time to hand down some of the responsibility and his 42 years’ of experience to Hilary, who although helping out since she could walk, is now working on her second vintage as Andrew’s apprentice.

This dad and daughter duo share their love and memories of their time in the Clare Valley wine region.

Why did you decide to become a winemaker?

Andrew: I grew up in Clare and always loved the smells of vintage when the aromas of fermentation wafted from the old Stanley Wine Company through the classrooms of Clare Primary School. After studying science and economics at Adelaide Uni I wanted to establish a business of my own and winemaking just seemed the natural thing to do.

Hilary: When I was younger I never wanted to work in the winery because I had seen how hard Mum and Dad worked! I trained and worked in the fashion industry in Spain for 15 years, and one year came back to Clare for Mum’s Birthday and helped out cleaning some picking bins….it was way more fun! 

What attracted you to the Clare Valley wine region in particular?

Andrew: Born to it.

Hilary: (same answer!)

Can you describe your winemaking style, and how it differs to your peers in the region?

Andrew: In Clare we can make wines with incredibly intense flavour but still with real elegance. Wines which drink well when young but can age beautifully in the long run. We like to make wines that have a soft, gentle touch. Not “show” wines which grab your attention but complex wines that seduce.

Which of your wines are you most proud of and why?

Andrew: they are like children, they are all so different but all have their own unique qualities.

Hilary: I wonder which one I am…? :)

What most surprises people about you or the wines you produce?

Hilary: That we are completely family owned and run, you can come into our cellar door and 9 times out of 10 you will be served by a family member.

What are you drinking now, and what are you cellaring?

Andrew: Right now its a glass of 2015 Watervale Riesling, but I will also be cellaring it with a view to enjoying it at its peak in 10 years or so. But for the long run everyone needs a cellar of old shiraz and cabernet.

Hilary: Drinking now, Semillon. It’s the perfect autumn drink: chilled in the afternoon sun or closer to room temperature on the cooler evening. The Cabernet Sauvignon is released at what we consider to be its “ready to drink” age (current vintage is 2008), but will still keep developing over the decades!

If you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would that be?

Andrew: It would be a painful decision but if it could only be one it would be a cabernet sauvignon of at least 15-20 years of bottle age. The 1998 is just perfect now.

Hilary: For me it’s the cabernet, when I lived abroad, just the smell of this wine would make me homesick. It smells like every good memory.

What is the most exciting thing coming up for both you and the business over the next 12 months?

Andrew: The next vintage. It is always exciting to watch the grapes ripening and to anticipate the potential.

Hilary: Dad letting me make my own mistakes! Getting to play around with the blends and smaller batches that will probably only end up being drunk at our kitchen table!!!

www.mitchellwines.com

Tuesday, 08 December 2015 08:30

12 wines of Christmas

While we're all celebrating the festive seasons, The Wine Pig would like to introduce it's top 12 wines of Christmas! Enjoy!

1st wine of Christmas - 2010 Maluna Block Shiraz by Eagles Rest

The Wine Pig's 12 wines of Christmas begins! Day 1: the 1st wine of Christmas is a gorgeous 2010 Maluna Block Shiraz by Eagles Rest in the Hunter Valley. Medium bodied yet intense, with fantastically powerful deep cherry and chocolate notes. A perfect start for this year's Christmas season!! 

 

2nd wine of Christmas - 2013 High Eden Chardonnay by Mount Adam Vineyards

The Wine Pig's 2nd wine of Christmas is a wonderful 2013 High Eden Chardonnay by Mount Adam Vineyards in Eden Valley, South Australia. An amazingly deep flavoured wine with fantastic body. Packed full of stonefruit notes with an additional hint of nuttyness. A wonderful elegant Chardonnay! Thank you Mount Adam! 

 

3rd wine of Christmas - 2013 Ernest Allan Shiraz by Gemtree Vineyards

And... the 3rd wine of Christmas is a 2013 Ernest Allan Shiraz from Gemtree Vineyards in McLaren Vale, SA. It's everything you want in a great Shiraz - punchy, fragrant, medium bodied and delicious but with an amazingly silky finish. And if it could get any better... all Gemtree's wines are organic AND biodynamic! It's true, this wine is literally ernest! 

 

4th wine of Christmas - 2014 Eight Acres Semillion by Mount Pleasant Vineyards

The Wine Pig's 4th wine of Christmas comes from Mount Pleasant Vineyards in Hunter Valley, NSW. Wow, this 2014 Eight Acres Semillion is stunning! Its floral notes are perfectly balanced with critrus and even a little hint of lemongrass has been included. A great choice of wine for a warm Australian Christmas evening. 

 

5th wine of Christmas - 2013 Pinot Noir by Toolangi Wines

For the 5th wine of Christmas we're taking a trip to Toolangi in Victoria's Yarra Valley. The medium bodied 2013 Pinot Noir had an excellent colour and is generously fruity but so soft. An excellent example of a great cool-climate pinot noir and a simply perfect addition to the Christmas table. 

 

6th wine of Christmas - 2015 Pinot Grigio by Lou Miranda Estate

The Wine Pig's 6th wine of Christmas is a 2015 Pinot Grigio from Lou Miranda Estate in the Barossa Valley, SA. A wonderfully fresh and vibrant wine with lovely green apple acidity and a slight floral note. An incredibly refreshing wine, perfect for a warm evening. Fantastic work Lou Miranda Estate!! 

 

7th wine of Christmas - 2013 Lofty Range Chardonnay by De Salis

The 7th wine of Christmas is an absolute beauty of a wine.De Salis's 2013 Lofty Range Chardonnay sits right at home in The Wine Pig's top 12 wines for this Christmas season. Located on the edge of Mt Canobolas in Orange, NSW, the cool climate helps create a perfect full bodied wine. In keeping with the De Salis style, this Chardonnay is complex, big flavoured and rich but also fantastically balanced. It truly needs to be tasted to be believed! 

 

8th wine of Christmas - Sparkling Durif-Zinfandel by Petersons

And for the 8th wine of Christmas The Wine Pig couldn't help but crack open a wonderful bottle sparkling Durif-Zinfandel from Petersons, NSW. Inky black with fine little bubbles and a hit of rich dark berries with savory spice and hints of dark chocolate. A fantastic wine for when you're looking for something a little bit different when celebrating this Christmas! And as Petersons say themselves... "life is flat without bubbles"! 

 

9th wine of Christmas - Old Tawny Liqueur by Patina Wines

The 9th wine of Christmas is a spectacular Old Tawny Liqueur from Patina Wines in Orange, NSW. The amazing blend has had many years of aging in small oak barrels and the outcome is fantastic. A wonderfully fruity and complex post-Christmas dinner wine which is offset by lucious nutty and sweet toffee notes. No Christmas would be complete without it! Great work Patina Wines!! 

10th wine of Christmas - 2014 Shiraz Viognier by Clonakilla

The Wine Pig's 10th wine of Christmas is from the wonderful Clonakilla! This stunning 2014 Shiraz Viognier is to die for. This wine is simply breathtaking! Made straight from Clonakilla’s best Shiraz Viognier grapes, all of which are sourced on the site, its wonderfully smooth, balanced perfectly between grace and power. It’s Clonakilla’s iconic wine, and one it should be proud of! 

11th wine of Christmas - 2011 late harvest Golden Triangle Semillion by Mudgee Wines

The Wine Pig's 11th wine of Christmas is a 2011 late harvest Golden Triangle Semillion from Mudgee Wines, NSW. a wonderful desert wine which is golden honey in colour and has full torpical mango and pinapple notes with a hint of oakiness. Incredibly smooth and incredibly wonderful. Hello Christmas!!!! 

12th wine of Christmas - 2013 Pinot Gris by Lake George Winery

The Wine Pig's 12 wines of Christmas ends with a 2013 Pinot Gris by Lake George Winery, Canberra. This wine is deliciously rich with wonderfully strong pear and tropical fruit notes balanced with just the right amount of acidity. An absolute delight to drink! Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015 07:04

The Wine Pig’s top five A$25-30 – the reds

So you’ve sampled The Wine Pig’s top five red wines under A$25 and now you’re thinking about broadening your budget a little to see what else is out there in the big wide world of red wine? Well look no further, of course we can help you with that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you’ve sampled The Wine Pig’s top five red wines under A$25 and now you’re thinking about broadening your budget a little to see what else is out there in the big wide world of red wine? Well look no further, of course we can help you with that!

Of the Australian wine regions which The Wine Pig has ventured to so far, some have climates which lend themselves particularly well to red wine. It’s hard to go wrong with a great cool climate deep red from central NSW, the Bordeau-esk region Margaret River or the ‘new-world’ red-wine king itself, Barossa Valley.

Wherever the region, and for whatever the reason, keep an eye out for our top five red wines A$25-30 and you will not be disappointed.

1.
Two Hands, Barossa – Gnarly Dudes 2013 Shiraz
This is easily one of The Wine Pig’s go-to’s for red wine! This bold wine has a lovely medium but rich density and weight, which is full of flavour with ripe with berries, chocolate notes and a hint of smokiness. This spiciness of this wine makes it worryingly and perfectly quaffable meaning we just can’t get enough of it in our mouths at once! Oink oink.

2.
Elderton Estate, Barossa – 2012 Merlot
Also from Barossa, Elderton Estate prides itself as having been recognised as maker of one of the five best Merlots in Australia, even with only two small blocks of its 72 acres dedicated to the grape varietal. Que a huge applaud from The Wine Pig!!! The medium-bodied classic red wine is an absolute pleasure to drink and at 14%, it also packs a pretty decent punch!

3.
Vasse Felix, Margaret River – 2012 Cabernet Merlot
This deep and fruity Cabernet Merlot blend has a wonderful concentration of blackcurrant but with a slight oaky finish – an absolute bargain for such a fantastic wine, from one of Margaret River’s oldest producers to make it into this category! This wine certainly benefits from a good airing though so grab your finest decanter and let it sit for a couple of hours, trust us the wait will be worth it!

4.
Ross Hill, Orange – 2013 Tom + Harry Cabernet Sauvignon & 2013 Isabelle + Jack Cabernet Franc Merlot

Ok so we may have cheated on this one... But it was near impossible for The Wine Pig to pick between two its favourite reds from the wonderful Ross Hill!! Both of these wonderful varietals grow at a 750 metre altitude and benefit from time spent in French oak barrels to bring out their woody cedar notes. The former, Cabernet Sauvignon, has a fantastic balance between fruitiness and spiciness while the latter – Ross Hill’s signature Cabernet Franc – is oakier with a distinctly aromatic and tangy finish. Buy them both, flip a coin and them drink the two of them anyway!

5.
Leconfield Wines, McLaren Vale – 2014 Shiraz
Leconfield’s 2014 Shiraz is grown over clay in vineyards which have been established in the McLaren Vale wine region for over five decades. This full-bodied, rich, dry, yet smooth and silky Shiraz is a fantastic addition to any wine piglet’s wine collection! It is elegance in a bottle. Try it, try it now!

 

The Wine Pig’s top five under A$25 – the reds

From pinot noir to durif, the choices are vast in the big wide world of red wine – there truly is something for everyone, but don’t get lost along the way. A fantastic bottle is unforgettable and will always leave you wishing it was just that little bit bigger. There are many perfect occasions to drink red wine, whether is it at the end of the day, at lunchtime, on the weekend, with dinner, without dinner, on your own or with friends, for heart health (seriously)… or if you’re The Wine Pig then “just because” is a good enough reason on its own. Anyway, check out our top five under A$25!

1.
Jim Barry, Clare Valley – The Barry Bros 2013 Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon

It was an easy decision to place Jim Barry at the top of The Wine Pig’s list. This wine is deliciously dark and smooth with lots of hints of chocolate and berries, making it so easy to drink that you’ll find it hard to put down that glass!

2.
Huntington Estate, Mudgee – 2010 Merlot
Huntington Estate hit the nail on the head with this light-to-medium bodied Merlot. The smoothness in taste only promises to improve even further over another 5-10 years, if it’s even possible to wait until then.

3.
Hently Farm, Barossa Valley – Dirty Bliss 2013 Grenache Mataro Shiraz
This delicious blend of famous Barossan grape varieties – Grenache, Mataro and Shiraz – has resulted in a rich, earthy taste with hints of fruitiness certainly makes it worthy of The Wine Pig’s top five.

4.
Pieter van Gent Winery & Vineyard, Mudgee – 2010 Durif
A fantastic big Aussie red, Pieter van Gent’s Durif has a rich, spicy and intense flavour which is perfect paired with those cold winter nights in front of the fire.

5.
Philip Shaw, Orange – The Wire Walker 2014 Pinot Noir
Although pinot noir is a relatively new grape varietal in NSW’s Orange, the cool climate is perfect and has resulted in an extremely light and smooth flavour with lots of hints of cherry – perfection!

This isn’t a question often pondered in The Wine Pig household, because it’s rare we find ourselves in the position where we have an open bottle of wine which isn’t empty. But occasionally we get carried away – usually when we have friends or family over – waking up the next morning with sore head and a scattering of half-drunk bottles around the apartment.

I’m sure nearly all wine-drinkers have been in the awful situation where we’ve sat down to drink a glass of our favourite vino only to take a sip tasting something similar to sour plums or vinegar.

This usually opens up a debate – how long can the bottle stay opened before the wine goes off? God forbid we would have to throw any of our precious fermented grape goodness away!

Annoyingly, the answer seems to be dependent on the type of wine, temperature, conditions of storage, whether it has a cork or is screw top, and also whether the wine has been decanted or not (we do this often). The general consensus seems to be 1-3 days but I personally feel that wine begins to deteriorate after 24 hours. And the worst case scenario? An amazing cooking wine.

Sparkling wine
An opened bottle of sparkling wine can last for up to 24 hours if it has the right champagne stopper – no, putting a silver spoon handle in the bottle opening does not make the bubbles last longer. The moment you take that cork out the carbonation is released and it will begin to go flat, so take my advice and drink the bottle.

White wine
In our experience, lighter more acidic white wines tend to last around 2 days, and the deeper more oaky chardonnay-esk wines a little longer, although the taste does alter. Once opened make sure it is sealed tightly and refrigerated (not in the door where the temperature is temperamental).

Red wine
Similarly to white wine, the deeper heavier wines tend to last a little longer than the lighter ones. As for something like a pinot noir, it’s unlikely to last longer than 24 hours assuming it is stored correctly in a dark cool place.

I’m not convinced that refrigerating red wine after opening slows down the process, partly because my fridge does not count as a ‘dark’ place when I’m opening it every five minutes looking for treats, and also because the extra time it then needs to get back up to room temperature. Feedback on this topic is welcome!

Fortified wine
We ask this question of most the winemakers we meet, and are answered with anything between 24 hours and 6 months. Generally, as we understand it, our much loved fortified wine and port can happily last refrigerated up to a month due to the high amount of sugar involved. However I’ve also heard that the longer the bottle has been stored the shorter it lives once opened. Best crack open that bottle of 1985 port at the weekend then!

Newsletter



Receive HTML?
catchme refresh

Joomla Extensions powered by Joobi