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Wine tasting for beginners

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If your next self-drive itinerary takes you through some of Australia and New Zealand's renowned wine regions, there's no need to feel daunted by all the vines and wines. You don't have to be a wine connoisseur to enjoy yourself when it comes to tasting wine - in fact, there are some basic tips that will make the experience much more enjoyable, and will arm you with knowledge that's sure to impress your friends at your next dinner party. While you're at it, make sure you spend at least one night sleeping amongst the vines at one of our Winery Havens!

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1. Know the basics

There are five main types of wines; red, white, rose, sparkling, and fortified (such as sweet dessert wines and ports). Within these, the degree of fermentation of the sugars will determine if the wine is dry, sweet or semi-sweet. Introduce yourself to rich reds in Victoria's Goulburn Valley and Mudgee in NSW, or if you're doing the self-drive from Adelaide to Alice Springs, then taste the whites in South Australia's Clare and Eden Valleys. No matter where you choose to go, you're sure to encounter beautiful rosés and dessert wines too.


2. Look, smell, taste

Just like the 3C's of diamonds, there are three things you need to do when you're tasting wine; look, smell, and taste. When the glass is poured, hold your glass up to the light and look to see if the wine is clear and has a beautiful colour; the more intense the colour, the more flavourful the wine.

Give the glass a swirl to aerate the wine, and smell to see if you can find the flavour. Many wines are flavoured with fruit, spices, even fine wood barrels and grass. The smell of the wine should enhance your taste experience.

Lastly, take a good sip but no swigging just yet. Coat your mouth and swish it around to identify the flavour. Is it fruity or grassy, spicy or sweet? This is where you decide if the wine appeals to your tastebuds.


3. Follow the 'menu'

Most wineries have a "tasting menu" with lighter wines at the start and heavier wines as you taste your way through, ending in fortified wines which are sweeter and heavier. Take the advice of the wine professional (or sommelier) and work your way through the tasting card in the recommended order so you can make the most of your tasting experience.


4. Plan your visit

Whether you're travelling through the New South Wales Hunter Valley, South Australia's Barossa Valley, Victoria's Yarra Valley or New Zealand's Marlborough wine region, you'll be spoilt for choice with hundreds of wineries dotting the countryside. It can be easy to get distracted and veer off to each and every winery catching your eye, but a better bet is to set out with a plan of attack to ensure you get to spend the evening sleeping amongst the wines at one of our winery havens.


5. Don't drink and drive

Of course if you're on a wine tour, the most important thing is that you enjoy yourself. There's the possibility you could become a little tipsy as you taste your way through the impressive range of wines on offer at your winery haven. It goes without saying, when staying at a winery haven you don't have far to fall into your bed at the end of the day!


Also, remember to stay hydrated and refresh your palette with a sip of water in between each wine as you make your way through the tasting. It's always a good idea to have a delicious dinner to wash it down with as well. Your winery haven picnic basket, or the on-site café/restaurant will provide you with lots of scrummy options to finish your day with.