Question from Harrison: There’s heaps of info out there on what wine to drink with restaurant food but what about everyday meals? What wine should I drink with my Friday night pizza?
In a nut shell: Return to the mother land of pizza and grab an Italian red. When in doubt it’s best to go for a wine that comes from the same place as the food. Although I know buying an Italian red can be daunting for us Aussies so read on for plenty of common grapes you can pair with your pizza. Read more
Question from Grace: Why does my favourite wine taste different all of a sudden? Like different bad, not different good! HELP!
In a nut shell: Noooooooooooooooooooooooo! The inevitable has happened and life as you know it will never be the same. The vintage (or year that the wine was produced) has changed and therefore it tastes a little different. Read more
Question from Heath: On the menu tonight is coq-au-vin which I am making with Cabernet Sauvignon. So is that what we should drink?
In a nut shell: I’d actually make it with Pinot Noir because that’s the perfect accompanying wine. Cook with a good Pinot and drink the rest! Read more
Question from Kathy: What wine should I serve at a party?
In a nut shell: Keep it simple and inexpensive and… Read more
Question from Peter: Is drinking wine good for you?
In a nut shell: Everything in moderation. First the good news – antioxidants found in red wine can have heart health benefits and fermented foods (grapes in this case) are good for digestion. The bad news – too much of a good thing can bring about some super sucky health problems. Read more
Question from Bruce: Can you suggest some great independent wine stores in Melbourne that I can try this holiday season. I usually go to Dan Murphy’s for convenience but I’d prefer to support local businesses.
In a nut shell: YES! There are so many great independent wine stores in Melbourne that stock fabulous boutique drops from Australia and abroad. I’m sorry if I’ve left off your favourite wine store and if I have please comment below and share them as I’m always keen to support the new kids on the block! The following are my personal haunts which are mostly influenced by where I hang out – I swing by them on my way home from work or on my way to friend’s houses, dinners and/or parties. Tell me your favourites! Read more
Question from Gillian: I am in love with German Rieslings! Why does Germany rock in the Riesling department? But I would love to buy and support local, can you recommend a great local off-dry Riesling? Love your work by the way.
In a nut shell: Germany rocks in the Riesling department because of its dynamic microclimate and location which allows for a longer ripening period than most other countries. This extended sunshine ensures the perfect level of sugar and acidity (the two most important elements in a good Riesling). Also, the unique soil of slate rock produces distinctive aromas and flavours found nowhere else. Lastly, Germany produces high quality wines because, by law, they must be made naturally with no additives or chemicals. With that said, Australia produces some amazing Rieslings too which I’ll get into later… Read more
Question from Michael: We’re hosting Christmas lunch this year. Help! What wine should I serve?
In a nut shell: Let’s go with the simple order of light nibbles followed by seafood entrée, meat main and pudding for dessert. Nibbles will pair perfectly with Sparkling or Champagne. For a seafood entrée slick with a light white like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio. For main pair with a light red like Pinot Noir, Grenache or Beajolais and for the pudding sip on a Muscat, Port or Pedro Ximenez. That’s pretty general – read on as I get a little more specific depending on how rich the food is. Read more
Question from Shannon: Hi Lauren, I love Champagne but have no idea what to look for in a good drop. And why is Champagne so expensive? I’m saving at the moment and can’t afford to always pop the Dom. What do you suggest?
In a nut shell: You’re in luck! It’s hard to get a cheap Champagne (for all the reasons I’ve listed in ‘in a clam shell’) but if you know what to look out for it’s super easy to get a cheap Sparkling that tastes like Champagne! Here’s my hot tip – when buying Sparkling wine (rather than Champagne) make sure it’s made in the Traditional Method (which is the same way Champagne is made) and it will have those delicious yeasty, creamy flavours you like in the French drop. Read on because there are details below that you want to know and I’ve suggested a few delish bottles to try too.
In a clam shell: So when you said you loved Champagne I’m assuming you meant the French sparkling wine from Champagne – which you want to drink more of for less – but we all know it’s hard to get a cheap bottle of Champagne! Right? Right! Read more
Question from Alice: Does price really dictate the quality of the wine?
In a nut shell: Always, never and sometimes. This is such a hard one to answer because wine enjoyment is so objective. What tastes amazing to me might taste rubbish to you and vica versa. This I cannot answer with a yes or no so you’re going to have to read the ‘clam shell’ where I’ve listed all the factors that bump up the price of wine (which the cheaper bottles lack) and then you can decide for yourself if these qualities are what you like in a wine. But the bottle line – if you enjoy drinking your staple $10 red then why stop because it’s not a ‘quality’ bottle. What a heap of codswallop! If you enjoy it then it’s a ‘quality’ bottle to you and that’s all that matters!
In a clam shell: If we’re to talk about the factors that bump up the price and ‘quality’ of a wine then unfortunately your $10 bottle is probably not going to cut it in terms of the textbook definition. That’s not to say that you should stop drinking that $10 pearler – if you can’t taste the difference between your $10 bottle and a $150 bottle you are VERY lucky! Embrace this for as long as you can. I want to be you! Read more
Question from Gloria: What’s the difference between old world wine and new world wine?
In a nut shell – Old World wine is from Europe and New World wine is from everywhere else.
In a calm shell – Well that’s a bit of a lie (sorry) but it’s not that simple. Read more
Question from Marcus: What’s the deal with heritage vines? Why do older vines make better wines? I had both an apricot tree and a lemon tree growing up and they both stopped producing fruit eventually. Why are grape vines different?
In a nut shell – They’re not really. Old vines stop producing fruit just like apricot and lemon trees do but grapes grown on old vines produce more intense, richer and complex wines than grapes grown on new vines and hence all the fuss. But to be honest, I think it’s largely a marketing ploy so be warned and read on.
In a clam shell – There is a general acceptance that wine from old vines will taste better – more balanced, more concentrated, bolder, richer and more interesting but there is absolutely no legal agreement, anywhere in the world, defining ‘old’. Read more
Question from Hannah: I really love Pinot Noir, it’s my favourite tipple when it comes to wine! But why oh why does it have to be so expensive? It seems much more expensive than other red wine varieties. Could you please explain why?
In a nut shell – It’s true, Pinot Noir is one of the most expensive wine varieties because it’s a pain in the arse to grow and it’s not going to get cheaper any time soon.
In a clam shell – Pinot Noir is such a princess – if the conditions aren’t perfect it’ll crack the poos and throw the towel in. It only likes cool consistent climates which allow the grapes to ripen slowly. It loves a chilly night but a nice warm sunny afternoon (don’t we all?). It’s so damn fussy that any variable (too much rain, frost or heat) will ruin it. And the grape itself has very thin skin which adds to its sensitive nature including its susceptibility to diseases. Read more
Question from Rebecca: Recently I have noticed with some wines I develop almost a hot rash even after one glass. I have spoken to some of my friends about it and apparently they experience the same. Is this due to an ingredient in the wine, and if yes is there a brand I can drink to avoid having this happen?
In a nut shell: Unfortunately it’s not a simple answer. There are a number of compounds you could be reacting to – sulphites, histamines, tyramine, tannin or alcohol (heaven forbid). Read on for all the nitty gritty.
In a clam shell: Common wine allergies include flushed skin and rashes (in your case), itchiness, headaches, migraines, congestion and asthma which can be attributed to all different compounds so figuring out what you’re reacting to might involved a little trial and error. Before you read on ask yourself a few questions. Do you get that hot rash whenever you drink alcohol or is it just when you drink red wine? Do you get headaches too? Do you get short of breath? Read more
Question from Claire: Bonjour! I feel silly asking, but here it goes – is wine vegan?
Question from Laura: Does wine contain eggs and/or dairy?
In a nut shell – So I figure these questions are very similar and hence why I’m answering them together. Unfortunately, wine is not vegan and does contain traces of dairy and/or egg but don’t put down your glass just yet. It’s not that simple. Read on!
In a clam shell – At the end of the wine making process most winemakers will clear out the floaties and remove any unwanted flavours left in the wine (yeast, protein, cloudiness) before bottling it, by ‘fining’ the wine which involves adding a fining agent. The problem here is that fining agents are animal based products, namely isinglass (fish bladders), gelatine, casein (milk protein) and egg whites. Read more
Question from Jacqui: I’m not a huge wine drinker and usually stick to sweet ciders so I would probably like a sweet wine. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
In a nut shell – We’ll get you started on sweet wines and you’ll be downing the drys in no time! Stick to Asti (sweet sparkling), Muscat and some Rieslings (more on this below). You’ll probably love dessert wines too but they’re crazy sweet so you wouldn’t drink these unless you’re eating dessert.
In a clam shell: If your best mates just got engaged and everyone is drinking sparking but you don’t want to whip out your sweet ciders stick to Asti. Asti is a sweet, fruity sparkling wine from Piemonte in northwest Italy. It’s made with the Muscat grape, which is very fruity (think peach) and very floral (think roses). Read more
Question from Steph: I always get confused when I am ordering Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio. They seem quite similar to me but what’s the difference?
In a nut shell – Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the exact same grape variety but it’s the way they are made that’s different.
In a clam shell – How confusing is it when you’re looking at a wine list with a Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio option! What to do, what to do?!? Read more
Question from Jacqueline: What is the difference between Shiraz and Syrah?
In a nut shell – Absolutely nothing! This black grape is known as Shiraz in Australia and Syrah in France.
In a clam shell – I don’t have much more to say except that Shiraz is quite unique to Australia so when you’re jet-setting (you lucky thing you) they’ll probably say Syrah and not Shiraz. It’s simple my friend. Read more
Question from Heath: I’m trying to impress someone special and am cooking duck for dinner but I have no idea what wine to have with it? Help!
In a nut shell – I don’t know what you plan to do with the duck so the safest bet here would be Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir and duck make the perfect pair! Want to know why? Keep reading! Your special someone is in for a treat!
In a clam shell – Tannin, I’m about to talk about tannin. Keep reading, I’ll make it simple! Tannin is that chalky, drying feeling in your mouth after a gulp of red wine. You know the one? When you feel like you’ve just sucked on a wet tea bag? If you’re still confused, do it and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Tannins are found in grape skins and are in higher levels in thick-skinned grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah). Also, the longer the skin stays in contact with the wine, during the making of it, the higher the levels of tannin. Read more