Cellar Door Wine Tasting

5 Cellar Door Wine Tasting Tips to get you started

When taking small groups of fun Foodies out on a full day Tour Cellar Door Wine Tasting and exploring our beautiful Adelaide gourmet food and fine wine regions, the question is sometimes asked of me;

“Hey Armin- what’s the proper way to taste wine, I’m new to this sort of thing?”.

Well, my take on that question is this:

A lot’s been written about cellar door wine tasting etiquette in wine mags and on websites, but the fact remains; you are TASTING wine, and hopefully more than 1, which you might not have tried before. Like any other food or drink you would have experienced for the first time as you’ve grown up, it should be an exciting moment of discovery, not self-conscious awkwardness.

I believe there are no hard and fast rules, the do’s and dont’s vary, but here are my:

Shiraz & Co Tour Top 5 Cellar Door Wine Tasting Tips


“The Shiraz&Co 5 S’s”

cellar door wine tastingStep 1 – See

Start by holding the glassware by the stem. A good habit to adopt so that you avoid affecting the temperature of the small sample and getting the glass greasy. I’m the No. 1 culprit of the “that must be your glass, look at all the greasy prints”.

Then hold it up and find some back light to illuminate the wine… (won’t see much for the greasy prints??).

Note the colour, intensity and how translucent the wine is. There are lots of factors which affect the visual appearance; variety, filtration, age and many more. But try to focus on just these 3 visual criteria, i.e. bright herbaceous green vs slightly cloudy pale straw etc. to begin with.

Step 2 – Swirl

Hold the glass and gently swirl the wine a little. Keep the glass flat on the bench when you first start to reduce the risk of ‘woops I’m sorry’, if you are like me or especially after the first few cellar doors.

Swirling helps release aromas as it gets the wine moving, passing more air over it. Some of the volatile components are released softening the wine a bit and it allows you to determine the viscosity of the wine more easily.

Viscous wine will cling to the glass. Watch the rate it moves down the inside of the glass as it returns to the bottom. The ‘legs’ or ‘tears’ people mention relate to the drops and streaks or runs that more viscous wines leave. This relates to alcohol and sugar content. It’s a known fact – too much alcohol can lead to streaks and that can end in tears.

Step 3 – Smell

This is where it becomes subjective, as aroma profiles are described in so many different terms. These vary from prominent to subtle, some more easily identifiable than others. The technical talk is primary, secondary and tertiary aromas, but this is more information than you may need to describe a wine you enjoy.

Like with food, we have favourite smells and particular aromas we relate to differently, some with fondness, others not so much. It’s handy to use the tasting lists to note down dominant aromas, as a reminder and guide for later. After tasting several wines, it is sometimes hard to remember and it is a great tool for food matching, where choosing complementary aromas may be important.

There are lots of chemical compounds involved, many with tell-tale aromas, some deemed advantageous and some not. Unless you are a wine maker, judge, collector or such, if you rate the smell as ‘pleasant’ or ‘not’, this will suffice I think.

Step 4 – Sip

Tasting is subjective again, due to individual preferences. Some flavours are more obvious than others, and the likeness references used are extensive, depending on your own repertoire.

Typical comments at this stage are in terms of describing sweetness, acidity and tannin characteristics. These are worthy of noting too, as they align with preferences and the information will often come in useful later. Comparisons can be made, conclusions drawn, and favourites can (and will) be chosen.

There is the issue of ‘slup vs sip’. That’s getting that extra bit of air to help with the taste sensations. This is again personal preference. Often parental advice about good manners when we were children makes this more uncomfortable than it should be. Try it I say, it’s more fun than you think. But avoid simultaneous laughing!!!

Step 5 – Spit

Spit is great when you consider total alcohol consumption, as it’s often underestimated on a full day touring and cellar door wine tasting. Also, the increasing alcohol level slowly deprives us of our finer sensory capacity, as the tastings start to add up.

Swallow is often the obvious and only option however, especially when the wine ticks all the right boxes, or as many of my guests call it “simply delicious” or “I could sit down here with my friends and drink a whole bottle(s) of this over the rest of the afternoon”

I hope the message you took away was this – drinking wine with good friends is fun and wine tasting should be too, and leave the serious side to the serious people…seriously.

PS: A Few Other Tips

Reserve Judgement

There is the belief that it is un-courteous to voice your opinion in an overly exuberant way (try that after stopping at 5 wineries) before everyone in the group has had their fair time to taste, contemplate and form their own opinion.

This has probably got something to do with behavioural psychology; the odd one out, go with the group, follow the leader and all that other complicated stuff. So taste, think and then share your thoughts freely. There are always the tasting notes or a helpful head’s up from the cellar door staff, advice about what you can (or is that should?) expect, which will help.

The Water

Most good cellar doors provide water to allow you to quench your thirst, rinse your mouth between wines or at least when you change from white to red or fortified, and to rinse your glass in some situations. It is also the polite way to stay with the group and sober, before you get drunk, as drunk is typically frowned upon by cellar door staff.

The Crackers

Feeling peckish?? As far as alcohol goes, tasting on an empty stomach is not ideal, but note that the crackers alone will not be enough. Try for a proper meal well before you start cellar door wine tasting. They are sometimes available and meant as a palate cleanser, as bland crackers help to get rid of lingering flavours where water fails.

I hope this lot helps. I would love to hear your feedback and hope to see you on tour with us one day soon.

To book a tour call me on 0411752062 or email me at armin@shirazandco.com.au.



The Shiraz&Co Team

Full Day Wine Tours

3 Hot Experiences on a Private Wine Tour in Adelaide

Private Wine Tours

One of the most practical ways to experience all our great and creative gourmet food and fine wine talent is to go on private wine tours. Whether it is an intimate day trip for two or in a small group, private wine tours are a personal engagement with the region where you can indulge yourself and your party.

Amazing Places = Amazing Experiences

Having participated in many Tourism Industry events, I can confirm that South Australia has become deservedly recognised as one of Australia’s leading Food & Wine destinations.

The state offers visitors a huge variety of class-leading and award winning:

  • restaurants,
  • wineries,
  • food and wine events and
  • artisan producers.

When it comes to freshness and diversity, our clean green environment and multicultural society has spoilt us for quality and choice.

The famous food and wine regions around Adelaide offer great year-round climate, fertile soils and a stunning outdoor lifestyle. It is here that our gifted chefs and wine makers are being joined by emerging artisans, crafting amazing experiences.

Their focus has solidly been on creating class leading new world ciders, beers and spirits, cheeses, chocolates and offering immersive and educational experiences targeting the food and wine tourism market.

Pairing these together on a private wine tour makes for some unequalled and unforgettable food and drink experiences to be shared around a table, many in some of the most breathtaking surroundings in the country.

Three Private Wine Tour Picks!

There are many venues and producers offering a unique and private wine and food experience in South Australia. This summary covers just three to highlight diversity and provide you with a taste of what is on offer on one of our Shiraz & Co private wine tours.

These tour destinations showcase an exceptional focus on embracing the wave of food and wine tourism that encourage visitors to get involved. These fine wine and food destinations champion the way, by offering meetings with the maker, promoting touching, tasting, testing of produce and fostering broadening of knowledge in an authentic and personal environment.

1. Mayura Station Tasting Room – Millicent

Mayura Station Tasting Room

Mayura Station Tasting Room in a Private Wine Tours

When it comes to unique and luxury beef, Wagyu is number one.

When it comes to unique ways to experience Wagyu, Mayura Station’s Tasting Room is at the top of our list. Here you get to enjoy the best of this $1000 per kilo beef cooked with love and perfection. It is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and indulgence.

Mayura have been raising the world famous Wagyu Cattle since 1998 on this iconic station established in 1845.  It is situated on the Terra Rossa soil that lends such depth of flavour to the Wagyu and the region’s award-winning red wines.

The dinner is an amazing event.  Ring side seating at the grill, a personal tutorial from the chef as he prepares and cooks about the station and history, a look into the exclusive world of Wagyu Beef followed by sharing in some of the most delicious and well-cooked beef (and local premium matched Coonawarra wines) on the planet.

We combine this indulgent wine & dine evening with a chauffeured Private Wine Tour weekend of Coonawarra Cellar Door and winery visits, with private boutique accommodation in the South East Region.

To find out more about Mayura Station Tasting Room visit their website here.

2. Casa Carbone Cooking School – Angaston

Private Wine Tours to Casa Carbone Taste of Italy

Pasta Making Class

When it comes to authentic Italian style cooking, Matteo and Fiona and their cooking school Casa Carbone is also at the top of the list of great private wine tour experiences in the Barossa Valley.

The “A Taste of Italy” cooking classes are small and very hands on, the ambience of the Enoteca just like Nonna’s kitchen. After an Espresso, it’s aprons on and into the kitchen classroom, with Matteo guiding you through ingredients and methods,  showcasing his favourite recipes passed down by family.

Learning to make pasta, Italian style, in the heart of the Barossa Valley with it’s backdrop of vineyards and quaint hamlets, inspires a sense of charm and tranquillity.  Matteo shares not only his skill as an accomplished chef but also his Italian heritage by telling stories about the food, culture and the ingredients, delivered with typical Italian passion.

The experience culminates in one of those perfect long table Italian-style lunches that we so often dream about. The delicious food crafted with love in the morning is matched with a hand picked range of wines, shared with the group of hungry foodies.

This private wine tour has you parting with a revitalised passion for authentic Italian cuisine, the skill and confidence to make pasta from scratch like a professional (you will never look at a packet of pasta the same way again) and maybe even the contact details of like-minded new friends whom you met on the day.

We compliment the Casa Carbone Cooking School morning with the leisurely drive through the region, stopping off at a few winery cellar doors on the way back to Adelaide, before dropping you off at the door of your Hotel.

For more information on what’s in store for you at Casa Carbone visit their website here.

3. Hutton Vale Farm – Eden Valley

Private Wine Tours to Hutton Vale Dining

Hutton Vale Farm Dining Room

The Eden Valley is the source of some of the best wines in the Barossa Valley region. John and Jan Angas have been nurturing their little piece of paradise, Hutton Vale Farm, and are now sharing this with small groups of lucky food and wine lovers.

This is another of those exclusive food and wine enterprises best experienced on a private wine tour. Hosts John and Jan believe in sharing their own brand of local farm style friendship, treating visitors like family. The old farm is as authentic and rustic as you can get. The focus is on providing guests with traditional style home cooked meals and estate grown wines,  the atmosphere warming and welcoming.

The Hutton Vale experience revolves squarely around what is produced on the farm; lamb, poultry, fruit, vegetables and wine of course. Much of their produce ends up in restaurants, loved by chefs.

A cellar door tasting and lunch or dinner in one of their rustic farm out-buildings is truly unique. Some of their guests fly in, using the air-strip, however if you don’t have access to your own private plane, the next best way to experience this food and wine oasis is on one of our Private Wine Tours.

The Hutton Vale Farm experience is best shared with a small group on a private wine tour to the region for the day. There will be time for visit a few winery cellar doors on the way, as we travel through the Valley on our way from Adelaide.

For more information on Hutton Vale Farm and what’s in store on this amazing private tour visit their website.

Tour Information

If you are interested in Private Wine Tours to the amazing Food and Wine Regions around Adelaide and would like to discuss a custom itinerary, including some of these unique experiences, please call Armin on 0411752062.

We offer transport options including:

  • limousines for 2,
  • luxury small groups of up to 6
  • midi buses for 20 persons

We can tailor the day to match your needs perfectly.


Adelaide’s Private Wine Tour Specialist

Private Wine Tours Adelaide

If you’re looking for a boutique food and wine tour for your group of family or friends, look no further than Shiraz & Co of Adelaide. Their luxury wine and food tours are specially designed to cater for the discerning wine lover and foodie who wants to experience the very best that the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale wineries have to offer — while avoiding the crowds.

Avoid the ‘booze bus’ wine tour experience

If you’ve ever been on a boozy bus tour, this boutique wine tour company is a whole world away from that! Imagine being picked up in a luxury limo or mini-van (depending on the size of your group) and enjoying a pleasant drive through the Adelaide Hills and on to the Barossa Valley.

A wine and food tour just for you

The day includes visits to a few select wineries that have been specially chosen by your host, and the owner of Shiraz & Co, Armin. Growing up in SA’s wine districts, working in the wine industry for many years, Armin has contacts throughout the industry. Which means he can definitely opens doors that you would normally never get to walk through.

Private tastings, tours of the facilities, a sumptuous chef’s tasting menu for lunch — it’s all just part of Shiraz & Co’s luxury wine tour service. Miles away from the madding crowd.

Shiraz & Co do their wine & food research

Armin and his wife Sharon have taken the time to research, select, visit and experience the most exclusive wine and food destinations to make absolutely sure they are authentic and inviting. The couple have a wealth of knowledge and they love bringing together the best of the best to create their luxury wine tours and delight their guests. Book a private wine tour with Shiraz & Co and they guarantee that it will be a day to remember.

A wine tour to your taste

No two private wine tours to the Barossa Valley or Mclaren Vale are the same — Armin and Sharon make sure that your tour is carefully designed to cater for you and your tastes in food and wine. So if you’re looking for a day out that’s extra special, for your partner, your family or friends, or your clients, to celebrate that special occasion or just to treat yourselves, visit Shiraz & Co and have a look at the very best private wine tours in Adelaide.

Then give Armin a call and have a chat about what he can create specially for you.