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Trying New Wines

By Dan Hutton on November 10, 2011 in

Many of us have a favourite wine that we tend to stick to, simply because we know what we’ll get when we open it up. For some of us, it becomes a part of our routine. We go home, sort out dinner and have a glass of wine while relaxing. For others, it’s just because it’s safe – you know what you’re getting and don’t want to take a risk on something else, especially if you’re buying a whole bottle. But if you’re the kind of person who reads these articles, you’re probably interested in trying new wines from time to time. So how do you do this without wasting money on a bottle you don’t like?

Try Wines by the Glass

Have you noticed all the new little wine bars popping up all over the place? And isn’t it great how, at least in most cases, their wine prices aren’t absolutely ridiculous like they are in some restaurants?

Most wine bar owners are passionate about wine – they’re not just in it to make a buck. That means you’ll usually find a great range of wines by the glass and by the bottle. These wine bars are a great place to go with friends and explore some different styles. And assuming your friends don’t have cooties, you can all order a glass of something different and share them around – this way you get to taste different styles side by side and directly compare them.

Many wine bars have themes too. Fico on Bourke St, for example, has mostly Italian wines, so if you’re interested in exploring Italian styles, give it a try. Other favourites of mine include SumBar on Frenchmans Road in Randwick and Time To Vino up in the Cross.

Hold a Wine Party

This is an easy one. Throw a party and get everyone to bring around a bottle of something different (which can take a bit of coordination). Open them up one by one and try a whole bunch of different styles, all for the price of the bottle you brought with you.

Some wineries are getting on board here too. In September, Best’s Wines held a virtual tasting via Twitter. I got a few friends around and opened up a few of their new releases, along with some dinner, and tweeted about them. It was a great way to taste these wines and interact with the winemaker and other wine drinkers.

Baby Steps

When you’re trying all these different wine styles, it may not be the best idea to make huge leaps between styles. If you’re a Marlborough Sauv Blanc fan and like those really fruity flavours, then going to a textural, aromatic Viognier is probably too big a change in styles.

Many Sauvignon Blanc drinkers also tend to like Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio, along with Semillon. While a lot of Pinot Gris wines can be very elegant compared to the fruity Sauv Blancs from NZ, it’s not a bad style to try for something different. If you’re a Chardonnay drinker, perhaps try a Viognier.

Like a light red like a Pinot Noir? Have a go at a Gamay or a Beaujolais. If you want to branch into heavier reds instead, try cooler climate Cabernet or a Cabernet Merlot blend.

Are you a big Barossa Shiraz drinker? Give a Heathcote Shiraz a go for a change, or try a Grenache instead.

There are a lot of great wines out there to try. Perhaps you’ll find a new favourite.