Basics of Wine Tasting in Australia
For many people, one of the most appealing things about time spent in Australia is the opportunity to taste some of the finest wines available anywhere in the world. Australia is now respected as one of the world’s best and most prolific producers of wine, and Australian wines are not only exported right across the world, but are also met with international acclaim.
No matter whether you sample Australian wines as part of a Great Ocean Road tour, a leisurely drive through the Barossa Valley, a weekend getaway in the Hunter Valley or an organised tour through the Margaret River region, you are bound to be impressed by the wines you taste, the knowledge of the wines and the wine-making process that is shared — not to mention the character and appeal of Australia’s many delightful wineries.
Why are Australian wines so good?
Australian wines are popular throughout the world, and for good reason. Many Australian wines are lauded as among the best in their class and it is widely understood that the quality of the flavour of wines produced in Australia is due to the fact that the climate provides the ideal conditions for harvesting.
Because Australian wines are so good, wine tourism has become incredibly significant and has a huge impact on the Australian economy.
Facts about wine tasting in Australia:
Although wine is produced in many different parts of the country, most of Australia’s best and most renowned wine regions are located in the southeast. Of all the states, South Australia produces more wine than any other and has wine regions such as the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and Coonawarra — all of which are respected globally.
The main wine regions in Australia are as follows:
- New South Wales: Hunter Valley, Southern Highlands and Mudgee
- Queensland: South Burnett and Granite Belt
- South Australia: Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale
- Tasmania: Tamar Valley
- Victoria: Yarra Valley, King Valley, Goulburn Valley, Alpine Valleys and Grampians
- Western Australia: Margaret River and Swan Valley
The types of wines you will taste
In Australia, different regions tend to specialise in different types of wine, depending on the grape varietal and its suitability for the climate of the region. For example, the Hunter Valley produces particularly good Semillon, while the Clare Valley is famous for the ‘Riesling Trail’.
Shiraz is one wine varietal for which Australia is particularly famous and, arguably, is the varietal that has really allowed Australia to make its mark; it remains the type of wine produced in the largest quantities in Australia.
Traditional varietals of wine from South Africa and Europe (including Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon) are also grown in Australia, which makes sense as there are no varieties of grape that are native to Australia.
Queensland’s tropical north has established itself as an area in which some great quality exotic fruit wines are produced. The region is of course famous for its tropical fruits and creative winemakers have used some of these local flavours in the manufacture of their wines. The tropical fruits that have been used in such wines include mangoes, lychees and Davidson plums.
Features of Australian wines
In Australia, different wines are usually labelled to distinguish the name of the grape varietal used and the particular grape varietal must constitute at least 85 per cent of the wine.
Those who appreciate wine will realise that different types of wine vary markedly in their features and qualities. For example, Shiraz wines come in a range of styles including everything from juicy wines that are punctuated with ripe plum and blackberry flavours and are comparatively inexpensive to ‘more serious’ wines that definitely showcase characteristics of the region in which they have been produced. Shiraz wines with flavours of spice and pepper often come from areas with a cool climate, such as the Yarra Valley or Adelaide Hills, while Shiraz wines that feature sweet, ripe fruits tend to come from warmer areas such as McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and the Clare Valley.
In Australia, great wines can be tasted in numerous locations. While trips to wine regions and the cellar doors of many wineries are recommended, you can easily sample some amazing wines of the highest quality while taking a Melbourne tour, relaxing at a bar or enjoying a delicious meal in one of Australia’s fine restaurants.