GUIDE TO THE GRAPEVINES

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - HOW I TRAVEL - CE­LESTE MITCHELL

Travel and wine go to­gether like … well, any­thing and wine. Whether you’re or­der­ing a bot­tle in a restau­rant, wine tast­ing your way through Tus­cany, or try­ing to im­press some­one you’ve met on your Topdeck tour, hav­ing a bit of vino knowl­edge and vo­cab comes in handy on the road.

While you can be lim­ited to eight pinot noirs at the lo­cal bot­tle shop, the whole world of wine opens up when you travel over­seas. In Lon­don, I spent a seafood-fu­elled evening with a Ge­or­gian wine – I didn’t even know Ge­or­gia pro­duced wine. In Ljubl­jana, our travel party of three spent an af­ter­noon tast­ing our way through the Slove­nian wine list, not once com­ing upon a grape we were fa­mil­iar with and yet en­joy­ing each one.

There are about 1200 dif­fer­ent grape va­ri­etals in the world. “Un­less you’ve tried ev­ery­thing you’ll al­ways find some­thing you might like just around the cor­ner,” says James Bo­den from the Na­tional Wine Cen­tre (wineaus­tralia.com.au).

While I’d con­sider my­self a wine novice, some are born into it. In South Aus­tralia, I’m con­vinced ba­bies are born un­der­stand­ing tan­nin struc­ture and why a com­plex ries­ling pairs well with a pre­served lemon risotto. So when I found my­self in South Aus­tralia – home to 26 dif­fer­ent wine re­gions, pro­duc­ing 49 per cent of Aus­tralia’s grapes – I set out to sleuth some of Ade­laide’s som­me­liers and self-con­fessed wine nerds to learn how to ap­pre­ci­ate wine like a pro (so you’re not afraid to try new va­ri­eties when you travel).

START WITH WHITE

mul­ti­ple tast­ings, start with white or sparkling. Ar­rang­ing by palate weight builds you up to the bold red end of the spec­trum.

LOOK AT THE COLOUR

the lighter a white wine is the younger it is, ma­tur­ing to a honey shade as it ages. With reds, the brighter the wine, the younger it is. Pig­ment fades as it gets older.

GIVE IT A SWIRL

Swirling wine doesn’t just look fancy pants. It will “open up the bou­quet” to bring out its full flavour.

PICK YOUR FRUIT

If you want to sound like you know what you’re talk­ing about dur­ing a tast­ing, James ad­vises run­ning through food groups. Is it cit­rus? Is it ap­ples or pears? Then think about spice and earth­i­ness. No an­swer is wrong. “Ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent in how they taste and smell,” James Bo­den says. “Ev­ery­one picks up dif­fer­ent aro­mas, we have dif­fer­ent his­to­ries and back­grounds of what trig­gers a mem­ory.”

SKIP THE WEIRD NOISES

though you might have seen it done, suck­ing in air, swoosh­ing wine around your mouth, or gar­gling isn’t nec­es­sary.

LEGS DON’T MEAN QUAL­ITY

You might have seen some­one swirling their glass and hold­ing it up to nod and mur­mur over its “legs” or “tears” as a sign of it be­ing a good drop, but all this re­ally means is it has high al­co­hol con­tent.

CUT THROUGH THE BUZZ­WORDS

“crisp” and “full-bod­ied” all just re­late to how the wine feels in your mouth.

TRUST YOUR SOMM

the som­me­lier and you might find your­self fawn­ing over a new style of wine you never knew ex­isted, so do ask for ad­vice.

“I’m not here to up­sell you and rip you off, there’s no value in that,” says James Parham, som­me­lier at Sean’s Kitchen (ade­laide­casino .com.au). “I’m your wine sherpa, here to get you to the top of the moun­tain and have a good time while we’re do­ing it.”

FOR­GET THE MYTHS

The more ex­pen­sive the wine, doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean the bet­ter it will taste.

Once you’ve learned what you like do re­search into which wine re­gions grow the grapes you love, to help you pin­point where you want to visit, or which wine to buy. Love shi­raz? In Europe, it’s usu­ally called syrah.

Part of the joy of drink­ing wine any­where – whether South Aus­tralia or South Africa – is the ex­pe­ri­ence of try­ing.

THE WRITER TRAV­ELLED AS A GUEST OF THE SOUTH AUS­TRALIAN TOURISM COM­MIS­SION

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