Ever wondered what the difference is to buying a great $10, $20 and $50 wine? Find out here from wine expert Rob Geddes, Master of Wine.
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Q. What do you wish the average person knew about wine?
Australians know a lot more about wine than any other nation (except maybe the Swiss) so I am pretty impressed with their passion and knowledge. I think a deeper appreciation of the role and importance of vineyards and regions. For example the real origins of the wine, also known as Terroir, demonstrating the importance of the idea that not all varieties suit all regions. This leads to the next step in the Australian wine journey of understanding which regions are best for which wines.
Q. When it comes to good wine is spending money or knowing what to look for more important?
Knowing what to look for is always better than spending lots. The appreciation of any wine you buy is increased when you know more about it. As in all areas of craftsmanship, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Let your taste buds speak to you.
Q. What should you look for when looking for a good wine for $10 or less?
Stick to the big producer names, and varieties such as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Riesling.
Let your taste buds speak to you
Q. How can you pick out a good wine for $20 or less?
Focus on Australia’s great regional varieties; Clare Riesling, Orange Chardonnay, Hunter Semillon, Barossa Shiraz, McLaren Vale Shiraz, Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River Semillon blends.
Q. Best top pick for wines costing $50 or less?
Again focus on Australia’s great regional varieties, and seek the more mature examples with five to eight years maturity and producers with a well known track record. Spend time talking to a good wine retailer and they will be able to point you towards the good producers. Late disgorged sparkling wines and top end limited production wines should be added to this list.
Q. If you are going to splash out and spend $100 or more on a bottle – what should you look for?
There are simply too many great Australian wines to comment on. I fill Australian Wine Vintages 33rd edition with thousands of these wines, and it's worth doing some research beforehand. Learn what you prefer, match a lovely meal and good company and a $100 wine will seem priceless.
Q. If you are buying a budget bottle of wine is it better to go for a white or red? Why?
This depends on the food, time of year and guests. A good dry Rose from the most recent vintage is my suggestion.
Q. How much do you need to spend to get a decent drop?
With so many great wines in Australia “value is in the eye of the beholder” and price is third to colour and variety. When I was 20-years-old the same priced wine was great now I am older I still like $20 wine.
I recently tasted a lot of $1000+ bottles of pinot noir and chardonnay from Burgundy. They had great intensity of complex flavours and yet were incredibly light in the mouth so you get the “fine wine contradiction” of intense flavours but lightness of mouth feel and structure.
Q. What are the best aspects of Australian wine?
There are many great Australian wines, world class quality but not expensive relative to overseas. The roll call of classics can all be found in the Australian Wine Vintages Gold Star Wines and includes:
- Sparkling wine from Macedon, Tumbarumba, Tasmania and the Yarra Valley
- Hunter valley semillon
- Clare and Eden valley riesling
- Central Victoria and Canberra marsanne
- Rousanne from McLaren Vale and Goulbourn Valley
- Chardonnay from Orange, Yarra Valley, Geelong, Margaret River, Tasmania and Adelaide Hills
- Barossa, Clare, Langhorne Creek, Mc Laren Vale, Grampians Shiraz
- Shiraz Viognier form Orange and Canberra
- Grenache form Clare, McLaren Vale, and Barossa
- Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, Geelong and Tasmanian Pinot noir
- Cabernet and blends from Tasmania, Margaret River, Great Southern Frankland River and Coonawarra
With so many great wines in Australia “value is in the eye of the beholder”
Q. Where is the best place to buy wine?
Best buying is in the region it is produced as many of our greatest wines are only available at cellar door. The best deals come and go and I follow about a dozen newsletters and retailers and watch their offers. I think the web based sales are the sharpest priced.
Q. What are three things you can say (and look for) if you want to try to show you know your stuff when it comes to wine?
Comment on the balance of flavours, the length of flavours and complexity of flavours. The bonus comment is on the intensity of flavour.
Q. Why do you think wine is one of the luxuries in life? Or is good wine a necessity for living?
The truth is somewhere in between. While drinking is not for everyone, wine is an old friend of the human race. The old cultural references to drinking wine often warn not to drink too much, and generally promote the idea “wine makes glad the heart of man”. It is a simple pleasure on one level but has the capacity to be elevated to the fleeting beauty of great music at another level.
What are your favourite wines? Do you have any great tips when it comes to buying wine? Join the conversation below.