Wine Tasting 101

October 11, 2005

Wine Tasting 101

Despite it being my sin of choice, I?ve always felt a bit intimidated by the world of wine. Being asked to taste my wine of choice in restaurants has always elicited nervous giggles as I try to maintain some dignity while remembering the ?right? way to taste (Is it swirl, smell, then taste? Or do I smell it twice? Aah?!)

It?s fair enough to feel a little nervous. After all, the art of making wine is serious business. In Australia alone, wineries have been open since the early 1800s and we even have some of the oldest vines in the world due to most ancient European plantings being wiped out in a plague during the 1800s. We are also quite world famous for our vintages: finding labels such as Brokenwood, Lindemans, McGuigans and Pepper Tree is commonplace in the bottle shops of Europe, Asia and America.

Although wine making is seeped in history, you shouldn?t take it too seriously, according to Christina Tulloch, operations manager of one of the Hunter Valley?s oldest wineries, Tulloch Wines. ?A lot is said about wine, but the only important thing is whether YOU like it. It doesn?t matter if you don?t know what it is, or even how to say it. Just choose a wine that tastes good.?

28-year-old Christina represents a changing face of the wine industry in the Hunter. Despite being the fourth generation to be running Tullochs Wines, she is the first woman. She?s also noticed this generational difference in people visiting the Tulloch?s cellar door in Pokolbin. ?In the last few years there has been an increase of young and enthusiastic people who are eager to learn.? She says it?s important to tell them about the wine in a humorous way without bombarding them with facts.

Assistant winemaker of Bimbagden Estate, Jane Turner, agrees that wine tasting is going in a new direction. ?People are much more open-minded about tasting these days. It doesn?t have that snobby vibe any more?. Unlike Christina, 30-year-old Jane hasn?t grown up in a family vineyard. Her career began in science, but she realised the industry of wine making was much more appealing. And she said it took quite a while for her to really discern different flavours in the wines. ?I remember my first serious tasting, we all had to rate the wines. My scores were all over the place while the other tasters were all fairly consistent with each other.? Her advice for improving your tasting palate: ?Practice!?

If you?re up for a bit of wine tasting practice, you?ll certainly love this event: the best wine and food of the Hunter Valley is coming to Sydney next weekend with the Hunter Uncorked festival. The festival will be held in the Rocks, from First Fleet Park along the foreshore to the forecourt of the Overseas Passenger Terminal and visitors will be able to taste the distinctive and Award winning wines. Entry is free, however to participate in wine tastings, you can either purchase a partners package at $25 which includes two tasting glasses plus 10 tasting tickets, or a single package that includes one tasting glass and 12 tasting tickets. The same packages can be pre-booked at Ticketek. For more information, visit or call (02) 4991 4533

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