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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

or

“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 [email protected]

Regards

Armin

The Shiraz&Co Team

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

or

“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 [email protected]

Regards

Armin

The Shiraz&Co Team

Wine Tasting – St Hallett Wines

St Hallett – Rowland Flat

It is hard to pass up St Hallett when setting out to enjoy some wine tasting. Established in 1944, St Hallett is a long time member of the Barossa’s “family” of vineyards.  St Hallett Winery has become well known for its Old Block Shiraz. St Hallett is another of those great iconic wineries to visit wine tasting while on a Shiraz & Co Tours day trip to the Barossa Valley.

 

Wine Tasting Barossa Valley Shiraz

Barossa Valley Shiraz

 

The winery provides tastings of some of the region’s typically bold and flavourful Shiraz. St Hallett is nestled at the foot of the Barossa Valley Ranges in the Rowland Flat sub-region. The winery sits at an elevation of approximately 290m, between Lyndoch and Tanunda.

Winemakers Stuart Blackwell and Toby Barlow have built the brands reputation around integrity by staying true to the Barossa’s heritage. The winemaking focus is on individual treatment to maintain the rich, intense yet diverse character of the fruit. St Hallet wines were showcased to an audience of wine enthusiasts at a recent wine tasting event at the Henley Wine Club.

Henley Wine Club

This week I attended the November 2016 meeting of the Henley Wine Club.  As a matter of course, the Henley Wine Club is a good show. This month’s meeting was special with a relaxed, informative and rewarding wine tasting of St Hallett wines.

The Henley Wine Club is hosted by Cliff and Linda Rothenburg ([email protected]). Club meetings are held on a monthly basis in the clubrooms of the Henley Beach Bowling Club.  The format is a tasting of wines from a different winery or wineries each month, a chat with the hosts and winery representatives and some gourmet nibbles.

All Hail St Hallett Wines

St Hallett was represented by Stuart Blackwell, the personable and prestigious St Hallett senior winemaker of long-standing.  Stuart presented a great range of wines with an interesting and diverse array of varieties, from easy-to-drink whites to the inkiest of reds.

Stuart presented the wines from the valuable perspective of the winemaker. We heard not just about their technical development but also the history of the company, the St Hallett’s ‘story’.  St Hallett scrubs up well as a wine company with great history, company philosophy, innovative wine-making and probably related to these characteristics, great wines.  Every one of the presented wines were winners.

History of Endurance

Two years ago St Hallett turned 70 years old. Read more about St Hallett’s history here.  there are many wineries and growers struggling from the effects When the Australian wine industry is in an extended downturn . St Hallett winery also has had its own struggles; described as at times ‘being on its knees’.  But the company is doing well at this time.  I suspect the latter has something to do with finding, attracting and retaining significant talent in its workforce.

Varietal Diversity

Reflecting on the wine selection at the wine tasting, it is amazing what St Hallett have done with varieties outside the classics.  Together with the Barossa/Eden Valleys’ standard bearers of Shiraz and Riesling, Touriga Nacionale, Mataro and Grenache (in Pinot-style) was on offer.

 

 

Wine Tasting Barossa Valley Wine Region

Barossa Valley Wine Region

 

At the easy-to-drink end of the spectrum was Poacher’s Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (with a touch of Riesling). This was humorously described as 60% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 12-14% Riesling.  I don’t know about your maths, but that’s definitely over-delivering!  At the inky end of the spectrum was Stuart’s signature creation Blackwell Shiraz, perhaps better called “Black-ink-well”.

Building Relationships

St Hallett procure fruit from interesting and/or talented providers.  John Dawkins, reformed federal politician of the 70’s to 90’s supplies fruit for the Dawkins Single Block Shiraz. Anthony Scholz, a grower from the famous Ebenezer district supplies the Sholz Single Block Shiraz.  Anthony is to be admired for his dedication to growing good fruit and for his outstanding approach to the way he sells his product.  His marketing focus is on forging strong relationships with winemakers.  He is ahead of his time in the way he markets his fruit and accolades should go to St Hallet for being among the first to respond positively by respecting the provider and his approach.

Great Wine Stories

There’s some interesting stories behind some of the wines also.  The ‘poacher’ behind Poacher’s Sem/Sauv Blanc is in fact Stuart Blackwell, who out of retribution, poached some fruit one season (way back in the wilder, old days) from a non-paying client for contract-crushing.  I hasten to add that Stuart came clean with the victim and then developed a great long-standing relationship with the offending, and then offended vineyard.  The story behind the Gamekeepers labels (tasted were Shiraz/Grenache/Touriga and Cabernet Sauvignon) was also related on the night. Unfortunately I missed this because I was expecting to hear that the Gamekeeper was named after the guy who dealt with the Poacher.

There are a thousand more stories at St Hallet to be heard over a great glass of their wine at a wine tasting.  A visit to the winery at St Hallett Road, Tanunda in the Barossa Valley is well recommended, especially on one of Sharon and Armin’s great Shiraz & Co gourmet food and fine wine tours. 

To learn more from St Hallet wines visit their website here.

For more information or to experience St Hallett Wines on a fun day tour itinerary call Armin on 0411752062 or email him at [email protected]

By Lawrie Stanford,

25 November 2016

5 Tour Tips to boost your Tour experience

5 Top Tour Tips

When on a well deserved break and thinking about taking a day tour, some simple suggestions may help to make for a great day out exploring the sights.

Here are our top 5 tour tips to help maximise your gourmet food and fine wine experience. But remember; just like individual likes of food and wine it’s all about personal preferences, having fun and sometimes embracing the unique and extra-ordinary.

Cooking Class Past making

Getting Involved – group cooking demonstrations

Tip 1. Get involved

A great tour delivers a memorable personal experience. Let yourself be transported from the everyday to a place that’s new and interesting.  Please enjoy the performance, embrace a new perspective and hopefully leave with a lingering impression.

The best way to get in on the fun is to participate. To capitalise on the opportunity it pays to be open to trying new things, sharing your own experiences, getting involved, asking questions and above all having a laugh or two.

Tip 2. Collect a few Souvenirs

Maybe for you it is caps or fridge magnets, some artisan produce, photos, stories or even just some new friends and fond memories.  Whatever the inspiration, after a great day out exploring new places, people or activities it’s rewarding to be able to share these with friends and family. Souvenirs are a great way to remind ourselves of what made the day special.

A favourite bottle of wine makes a great postcard substitute, or some local ingredients to put in the picnic hamper for the next day. You could collect both to make the evening in the hotel or B&B just that little more relaxing, indulgent or romantic.

Tip 3. Support local business

Embrace the opportunity and allow the local cellar doors, artisan producers and growers to contribute to your experience and share their passion and expertise. They typically work very hard to differentiate themselves from their competitors and offer an insight into the uniqueness of their product.

Boutique operators are typically members of the local community who value the importance of their role, both to the survival of the region and to your enjoyment.  Their success is driven by the ambience, service and quality they offer.

It is important to remember that they are still a business,  no different to any other. To consider them free entertainment would be unfair, as they rely on selling product to survive.

Tip 4. Share your experience

Cellar Door tasting

Regional Cellar Door Tasting

Venues rely on word of mouth advertising.

They love when you share a memorable experience and reflect on the opportunity to improve when you provide constructive feedback.

They recognise that many of their guests are novices who are interested to learn first hand.

It is clear that sometimes things may be cheaper at retail outlets or on-line, but there is little to rival the level of experience, information, sense of place and community than at ‘the farm gate’. It is also often only at the source that you get to see what goes on behind the scenes.

Tip 5. Be open-minded

The relationship between nature and food and wine is dynamic, driven by location, weather, soil, tradition, technique and even technology.  It is this individuality which makes for such unique and diverse experiences.

In Australia we love a good story and in our experience a lot of our best comes with one, so don’t be afraid to ask .

So please embrace the opportunity, sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

Shiraz and Co Tours – a focus on convenience

That is why at Shiraz & Co Tours we tailor many of our itineraries so we can ensure we personalise the experience. If you are thinking of exploring the regions around Adelaide on Tour for the day and have some specific food and wine passions, email [email protected] or call 0411752062 so we can guide and assist you.