Author Archives: finewineclub

Premium Chardonnay – First Impressions: February 2020

Premium Chardonnay – First Impressions

Barry Weinman: 25th February 2021

This was one of the more interesting tastings that I have done recently, as it gave me the opportunity to review a number of current release wines, as well as several excellent wines that will not be released for some time.

The highlight was the overall quality of the 2019 Single Vineyard Chardonnay’s from McHenry Honen. All three wines are quite superb, but the Calgardup Brook was my pick at this early stage. Easy to mistake for a good Puligny but only a fraction of the price.

The 2019 Moss Wood is a triumph against adversity. Whilst the weather threw up a number of challenges, the Mugfords have produced a stunning wine (in very small quantities). This was still available from winestar.com.au at time of writing.

I was surprised and delighted by the 2018 Redbrook Reserve from Evans and Tate. Finer and more elegant than previous renditions.

And then there was the Cullen Kevin John…

An interesting takeaway from the tasting was how well most of the wines will age. All of the premium wines reviewed will benefit from five to ten years in the cellar and continue to hold for even longer.

Not quite in the premium bracket but the Naturalis Chardonnay is a perfectly drinkable wine from the Angove stable, and is organic to boot.

Reviewed

Cullen – Chardonnay – Kevin John – 2019. An unbelievable wine that manages to combine intensity, power, restraint and finesse in the one package. A wine to make you swoon! Perfectly ripe fruit combines with pineapple acidity, providing a mouthful of joy. The finish is supple, textured and fine with great length of flavours. Elegant, restrained and very long. Brilliant now, even better in 10 years. 97pts – $135

Moss Wood – Chardonnay – 2019. Honeysuckle and white peach aromas. Ripe and intense with beautifully integrated oak. This is a dense, powerful wine that needs years to hit its peak. But the intensity of fruit now is something to behold. An absolute triumph from a vintage struck by frost. 96-97pts – $85.

Vasse Felix – Chardonnay – Heytesbury – 2019. Fine, elegant, taut and refined, this is the picture of restraint. Seamless palate transition and superb texture. The power builds with air. A stunning wine. 96pts – $92

Xanadu – Reserve – Chardonnay – 2018. The pale colour is deceptive – this is concentrated, intense, powerful and ripe. The muted fruit is quite pretty but needs time to open up. The acidity also needs a little time to settle back into the fruit. Give it five years and be rewarded. Magnificent wine. 96pts – $110.

McHenry Hohnen – Chardonnay – Calgardup Brook Vineyard – 2019. Leaner, taut and fine, with supple texturing oak adding depth. This has floral, pretty stone fruit characters and the palate transition is near seamless. Very long, very fine, very elegant. A superb wine that will be as good in five to ten years as it is today. 95+pts

McHenry Hohnen – Chardonnay – Burnside Vineyard – 2019. This hits the sweet spot, with the powerful, ripe, peachy fruit brilliantly paired to supple, savoury oak. Near seamless palate transition is remarkable given that this wine needs five+ years to really hit its straps. 95pts.

Stella Bella – Luminosa – Chardonnay – 2018. Intense, powerful and impressive, with supple barrel ferment and lees notes combined with quality oak and ripe, Gin Gin clone fruit characters. Took its time opening up, suggesting that bottle ageing will be of benefit. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but a superb wine all the same. 95pts – $70.

McHenry Hohnen – Chardonnay – Hazel’s Vineyard – 2019. Another fine wine, but here the oak is still settling back into the fruit. Intrinsic power, with Chassagne-like nuttiness. Very long, but needs years to hit its peak. 94pts

Voyager Estate – Chardonnay – MJW – 2018. Wonderful wine! Fine and elegant, with superb fruit running the length of the palate. Pineapple fruit, density, gentle viscosity. Quality oak adds depth. Not quite pretty, but a beguiling wine that really builds with air. Great drinking too. 94pts – $115

Suckfizzle – Chardonnay – 2019. A fine wine that is elegant and varietally correct, with subtle power and depth. There is an immediacy to the fruit that is most attractive, balanced by crisp, intense grapefruit acidity. Quality oak adds to the package. Age worthy. 93+pts – $70

Fraser Gallop – Parterre – Chardonnay – 2019. More rounded and approachable than the Xanadu, yet still in a high acid style. The palate is intense, powerful and very long, with the oak subsumed by the lemony fruit. Great drinking with food now, but really needs 3 – 5 years. 93+pts.

Naturalis – Chardonnay – 2020. This is a real surprise package. Here is a lighter styled chardonnay that has excellent balance and texture at a very affordable price. Organic. 90pts – $18.

Bigger Reds

Bigger Reds

Barry Weinman: 16th February 2021


Hutton Vale Farm is a family run winery in the Barossa. The Angas family are pioneering farmers in the region (Is it a coincidence that they are based in Angaston???) who diversified into wine along the way.

They established the Mount Edelstone Vineyard in the 1900s and subsequently sold to Henschke in the 1970s. The remaining vineyards were planted in the 1960s and are now managed by the 7th generation of the family in the Barossa.

Wines are made by Kim Teusner and share the same polished approach to winemaking as the Teusner wines, but with the vineyards characters stamped firmly on the style.

Reviewed

Hutton Vale Farm – Grenache/Mataro – 2016. The very pretty old-vines Grenache fruit has floral notes and is ripe, supple, elegant and lithe. Very refined and precise, this initially appears quite delicate. It gets a little textured and chewy on the close, as the fine tannins start to build, but this merely adds to the appeal. Will be brilliant with 5 – 10 years in the cellar. 95pts – $75.

Hutton Vale Farm – Shiraz – 2016. The ripe, succulent fruit is fragrant, with gentle spice and liquorice adding depth and complexity. On the finish, the tannins and oak kick in, adding depth and texture, but also serving to mute the fruit. With air, the fruit really shines, and the tannin management is a feature, so give it five to ten years to open up. 94-95pts – $75.

Juniper Estate – Single Vineyard – Shiraz – 2017. Liquorice and ripe fruit to the fore. Dense, chewy, textured, yet not heavy or cloying. This is a rich wine, yet it has been very well handled in the winery, resulting in a silky, mouth-coating wine with fine, texturing tannins. Impressive. 93pts – $40.

Naturalis – Shiraz – 2019. Plummy fruit the main feature here, balanced by decent acidity and supple lick of oak. Refreshing and vibrant, with good length, this would be a good match to some simply grilled meats (or vegetables). 89pts – $18

Cabernet and Malbec: February 2021

Cabernet and Malbec New Release

Barry Weinman: 6th February 2021

The highlight of this tasting was comparing and contrasting the Stella Bella Luminosa Cabernet with the Suckfizzle Cabernet. Suckfizzle is a stand-alone brand within the Stella Bella stable and is named after the vineyard from where the grapes are sourced.

Planted in the 1990s, Suckfizzle is the most southerly vineyard in the region being relatively close to Augusta. This give the wines a unique character, as a result of the cooler climatic conditions.

The Luminosa vineyard was planted in 1998 and is in Wallcliffe, close to the likes of Leeuwin Estate and Voyager.

Besides the location of the vineyards, the vintages also paint part of the picture here. There was a wet January in 2016, but being so far south, this did not impact on the quality of the fruit at Suckfizzle. 2017 was an atypically cool year, resulting in a long, slow ripening year.

Both vintages required careful vineyard management, but each have left a unique impression on the wines produced.

In a very different style, but equally successful is the Higher Planes Malbec. This has been made in a way that exacerbates the juicy red fruit and is a deliciously smashable, if not totally serious drink. Worth trying this summer over a BBQ.

Reviewed

Higher Planes – Malbec – 2020. Perfumed and fragrant, this is a riot of juicy fruit, with the delicious berry characters building with air. The chewy texture and gentle spicy notes make this great current drinking around the BBQ. 100% whole bunch fermentation. Excellent value. 92pts – $28.

Cullen – Mangan East Block – Malbec/Petit Verdot – 2019. Pretty plum and berry fruit, with gentle herbal notes on the nose. The palate is silky and supple and the tannins really finely polished contributing to the excellent mouthfeel. This drinks brilliantly now but could also benefit from a few years in the cellar. 81% Malbec. 92pts – $45

Preccavi – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2017. Very fine, elegant and supple, the gentle fruit slowly building. The mouthfeel is quite silky, with a near seamless palate transition. The dusty tannins and persistence of fruit add a sense of gravitas. 93pts. $75

Stella Bella – Luminosa – Cabernet Sauvignon– 2017. Lovely fruit on the nose that is perfumed, floral and ripe. The palate has more of the perfumed, blueberry fruit, supported by fine tannins and supple oak. Balanced, elegant, long and delicious, yet age-worthy all the same. 95pts – $90

Suckfizzle – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2016. This is quite special. The nose is restrained and muted at first, but the palate is fine, elegant and supple, with excellent length and near seamless palate transition. The fruit is restrained at present, but the quality is undeniable. Fine, silky, great acid balance, polished tannins. 93pts – $65

New Release Whites – January 2021

New Release Whites

Barry Weinman: 3rd February 2021


Perhaps not the most serious lineup of wines that I tried over the break, but certainly some of the more approachable, food-friendly wines.

The contrast between the racy and lithe Mt Horrock’s Riesling and the rich and viscous Hutton Vale Farm was an interesting one indeed.

Reviewed

Hutton Vale Farm – Eden Valley – Riesling – 2019. In a line-up of dry Rieslings, the residual sugar in this came as a surprise, but the panel really appreciated this wine. Lime blossom, ripe citrus and musk lead to a palate that is viscous, rich and dense. The precise acidity balances the sugar nicely. Serve chilled with Asian foods. 92pts – $35

Mount Horrocks – Watervale – Riesling – 2020. Wonderful perfume. Dry, elegant, refined and pretty, with vibrant acidity adding life. Yes, this is age-worthy, but it is delicious right now. 93pts – $35

The Bio Project – Fiano – 2020. Quite subtle and fine, with supple mouthfeel and acidity. Impactful without being overtly fruity, with excellent fruit weight and length and crisp acidity to close. Will be best with food. 91pts – $25

Higher Planes – Fiano – 2020. A similar textural profile to the Bio Project, but with supple perfumed fruit that adds interest and depth. Whilst not overly complex, the balance and length of flavours are a highlight. Will be good with or without food. 90pts – $28

Naturalis – Pinot Grigio – 2020. Actually, quite a good drink. Subtle fruit, elegant fruit that is long and quite fine, with decent length. Neutral, food friendly and organic. 86pts – $18.

Current Releases Pinot: January 2021

Current Releases Pinot: January 2021

Barry Weinman: 31st January 2021.

Since Christmas, we have been busy tasting a number of different varieties and styles and there have been several highlights that I will share over the coming weeks.

First up, the panel looked at a cross-section of Pinots from across the globe and were pleased to see quality wines on show from Australia and New Zealand, as well as a couple of great value Premier Cru Burgundies available form Lamont’s in Cottesloe.

Across the board, the food-friendly nature of the wines was a feature.

Reviewed

Domaine Thenard – Pinot Noir – Givry – Premier Cru – Les Bois Chevaux – 2015. Supple perfumed Burgundian fruit with earthy notes adding complexity. The palate is elegant and lithe, with depth and subtle power sitting behind the fruit. Great drinking with food now, but really needs a few years to open up. Very well made. Premier Cru Burgundy from a great year for under $50 is a bargain! 91pts – $49 from Lamont’s Cottesloe.

Domaine Thenard – Pernand-Vergelesses – Ile Des Vergelesses – Premier Cru – Pinot Noir – 2014. More serious and structured than the Givry, with greater density of fruit. Complex, savoury and structured, this is an excellent food wine. But will also improve with a few years in bottle. Again, excellent value. 92 pts – $60

EscarpmentNoir – Pinot Noir – 2018. Quite pretty and perfumed, with high quality cherry-like fruit. Impeccable balance, seamless palate transition, fine tannins, acid and oak sitting in behind the fruit adding texture and depth without overt flavours. Almost pretty, but more serious than that. Now – 5 years. 92+pts – $60.

Batista – Pinot Noir – Angelina – 2016. Light and fresh, with good varietal characters. Straightforward and approachable, but that said, the fruit lingers admirably and builds with air. Supple and savoury, with earthy hints, this is good drinking. 90pts.

Batista – Pinot Noir – 2018. Pretty, elegant and vibrant, but with a core of dense fruit at its heart. Not flashy or showy, but very enjoyable. A modern, fresh Pinot that needs a few years to allow the tannins to soften. 92pts – $45

Picardy – Tête de Cuvée – Pinot Noir – 2017. Pretty, vibrant fruit that is balanced by souring cherry-like acidity and fine, savoury tannins from the fruit and oak. This is the most serious and powerful wine of the tasting, yet retains approachability, thanks to the delicious fruit. Long, complex and fine, drink this whilst waiting for the brilliant 2018. 93+pts – $70

Champagne Bargains: January 2021

Champagne Bargains: January 2021

Barry Weinman: 31st January 2021


Almost everyone loves Champagne and sparkling wine. There is a touch of mystique, an air of celebration and sense of achievement. But this all comes at a cost. There is no such thing as a cheap Champagne!
But having tried a cross-section of wines currently available, there are a number of bargains out there. (I have ordered a 6 pack of each of the below, given how good the prices are).


Piper Heidsieck – 2012 – Vintage Champagne. $61.75
There are small stocks of the brilliant 2008 available in some stores, but the 2012 is widely available and is almost as good. This is good value at the usual price, but First Choice has this for an unbelievable $61.75 in any six pack.
The great news is that Dan Murphy and Vintage Cellars will both price match this!


Charles Heidsieck – Brut Reserve – NV. $77
This is my benchmark NV Champagne and the sparkling wine that I have drunk the most of over the last few years. Winesquare has this for only $77/bottle. You will need to call Rosa direct on 02 9098 8600 or email rosa@winesquare.com.au and mention that you heard about it through Fine Wine Club.


Laurent Perrier – Vintage – 2008. $85
This is a fine, taut, age-worthy style from the brilliant 2008 vintage, and Winesquare has this for under $85. To me, this is a wine that would really benefit from five years in the cellar, so perhaps buy something else if you want current drinking pleasure. Again, you will need to call Rosa direct on 02 9098 8600 or email rosa@winesquare.com.au and mention that you heard about it through Fine Wine Club.


Veuve Monsigny – Premier Cru – NV. $30
This Aldi exclusive is made by Philizot & Fils and is an outstanding wine for the $30 price. Fine, elegant and with decent length, it ticks all the boxes. Sure, it is not overly complex, but it is refreshing and moreish. A no-brainer.

Whilst not on a huge special, these Australian wines need to be included in this review, as they offer value (and quality) equal or greater than any of the French wines reviewed.
Any sparkling wine by Sittella. The winery is out of stock of their two top wines but the excellent Cuvée Blanc is still in stock at Dan Murphy
Any wine made by Arras. If you can’t afford the Grand Vintage, then the Brut Elite (labelled 15/01 on the neck capsule) is a brilliant alternative.

Reviews

Piper Heidsieck – Vintage – 2012. Altogether more complex and deeper than the NV, with rich brioche and dough characters. A lively mousse gives way to a palate which is finer and more elegant, with subtle berry fruit notes and a touch of pear. The finish is a delight, with supple texture, fine acidity, excellent persistence and length. An excellent follow-up to the 2008 and a tremendous bargain when on sale. 93pts – $90

Charles Orban – Blanc de Blancs – NV. Pale yellow colour, and fine mousse notable in the glass. Restrained and taut, with a slightly chewy texture, this has intrinsic depth and structure. An impressive wine that is excellent value (Dan Murphy/BWS). 92pts – $55.

Veuve Monsigny – Premier Cru – NV. This is quite excellent. Fine and elegant, with ripe citrus acidity and very good length. Not complex, but very satisfying. I would be pleased to have another glass. Brilliant value at $30 from Aldi. 91pts – $30

BBQ Buddies

BBQ Buddies

Barry Weinman: 24th December 2020

Now that the warm weather is well and truly set in for the summer, my mind turns to that great Australian tradition called the BBQ.

Whilst sausages and overcooked steak still make an appearance, the BBQ is now being treated as a serious culinary experience by many Australians.

Wood-fired BBQs, marinated roasts, seared seafood and spiced vegetables are just some of the items making an appearance.

And as our culinary experience associated with the BBQ has changed, so too has the beverages we consume as part of the occasion. VB and Emu Export have been swapped to craft beers and deliciously flavoured, high-quality red wines.

A work of caution though. Your BBQ wines need the same care and attention as the steaks and seafoods that you are serving. Heat is your enemy! A hot BBQ and a warm day leads to warm wine.

As a wine warms, the fruit loses its finesse and freshness and the alcohol becomes more prominent.

Consider popping your reds into the fridge for 30 minutes before serving, and returning it to the fridge intermittently throughout the afternoon.

Shiraz

Shingleback – The Gate – Shiraz– 2018. Purple! Dense and inky, with an undercurrent of ripe fruit and liquorice that is balanced and poised. I love the supple, slightly savoury fruit and fine, polished tannins. Gets a little chewy on the close, but never loses the silkiness. Excellent fruit and winemaking. Age-worthy. 94pts – $40.

Salena Estate – ex-PRESS.ion – Shiraz – 2019. Precise and focussed fruit complemented by coffee and mocha notes. The palate is an explosion of deliciously ripe fruit, with the tannins and oak adding texture. Not as structured as the Shingleback but more immediately impactful and moreish. An affordable, well-made user-friendly wine. A BBQ champion from the Barossa. 93pts – $30

Shingleback – The Gate – Cabernet/Shiraz – 2018. Ripe berry and current, with supple oak support. Perfectly ripe fruit on the palate is silky and fine, with the Cabernet adding structure. The finish is long, supple and elegant, with a drying, textural finish that gets a touch chewy. An impressive wine that deserves time in the cellar. 95+pts – $40.

Cabernet

Oates Ends – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018. Pretty, fragrant and approachable with hints of violet and cassis. The palate has blueberry and currant notes, with supple, savoury oak adding spice and texture. The balance and length are noteworthy. Not the most powerful wine, and all the better for it. 93pts.

Voyager Estate – The Modern – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018. Fragrant, ripe and pretty, with a core of berry fruit. The palate is supple, silky, and textured, with near seamless palate transition. Medium bodied in weight, this is a wonderful drink now but ultimately will benefit from a few years in the cellar. 93pts – $45.

Balnaves – The Tally – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014. Aromas of berry and menthol stamp this wine as Coonawarra. Depth, texture and power, supported by supple and refined tannins and oak. Closed, tight and ungiving. This wine has a very long future. 95+pts.

Sparkling Wines for Summer

Sparkling Wines for Summer

Barry Weinman: 23rd December 2020

The majority of sparkling wine produced is non-vintage, and this is for good reason. By blending years, producers can make a more consistent (house) style, less impacted by the vagaries of vintage-to-vintage variations in quality that can occur.

Whilst Champagne producers like Krug and Charles Heidsieck take this to extremes by blending twenty or more base wines into each release, the reality for most a little different.

The majority of most blends is made from a single vintage, with small amounts of reserve wines added for depth and consistency.

In Australia, many producers (particularly at lower price points) do not have a reserve program, so their NV is actually from a single year, just without the label.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that there can be significant differences in the wine from one release to the next depending on the conditions. So the taste of your favourite bubbles will change over time.

The challenge for consumers is that the labelling does not change, making differences hard to pick. But some producers are making life easier.

Arras Brut Elite has a number on the neck capsule that gives a clue. The current release is labelled 15/01. 15 indicates that it is from the 2015 vintage, whilst 01 indicates the first disgorgement. A superb wine for $40.

Aldi have released two new Yellowglen wines at $8 that are bargains if you need cheap bubbles. The Rosé is my pick. Not overly complex or interesting, but perfectly drinkable for the price.

Reviewed

Quartz Reef – Brut – Méthode Traditionelle – NV. Fragrant, bright, and balanced, with decent texture. Whilst relatively neutral, this is light, fresh and moreish, with gentle toast and brioche notes building on the finish. 62% Pinot Noir/38% Chardonnay. Biodynamically produced. 17.5pts – $40.

Bellabonne – Vintage Rosé – 2017. Colour tinged with salmon pink. Easy to overlook, given how good drinking this is, but there is real depth here. Gentle autolytic characters, supple spice notes and gentle strawberry fruit all swirl in the glass. The finish is supple, balanced and precise, with enough depth to take lighter foods. 17.8pts – $60

Yellowglen – Rosé – Chardonnay, Pinot & Prosecco – NV. This has a most attractive pink hue and is fresh and lively, with exuberant fruity. Not complex or overly dry, but this is an $8 sparkling from Aldi that is actually drinkable. Go figure. 16pts – $8.

Delamotte – Brut – NV. A step up in complexity. Lithe and fresh, with a moderate dosage and driving acidity. A fine, elegant wine with excellent mouthfeel and presence. Excellent length supported by a bitter almond finish that adds to the appeal. 18pts – $75

Alexandre Bonnet – Grande Reserve Brut – NV. A richer, more developed style than the Delamotte that whilst complex, remains taut and fresh with fine acid drive and gentle texture to close. Delicious and moreish, with brioche notes to the fore. 18pts – $70

Recent Releases: November 2020

Barry Weinman: 16th December 2020

My wine week has involved tastings across a number of styles, including sparkling wines and Shiraz. I will write about some of these in coming weeks, but I wanted to share a couple of refreshing wines for spring, as well as two Australian classics.

Aylesbury have produced a vibrant and smashable 2020 Gamay (89pts – $30). This is in the nouveau style that preserves juicy fruit. A fun wine.

If Rosé is your thing, then Oakway’s 2020 il vino Rosato (88pts – $25) is worth a look. Bright and fresh with a refreshing saline tang. Bring on the antipasto.

Shaw & Smith played an important role in putting Australian Sauvignon Blanc on the map. The 2020 (92pts – $29) is fresh and lively and another cracking drink.

Reviewed

Marri Wood Park – Sauvignon Blanc – 2019. Lifted melon, stone fruit and grassy notes that leads to lemon fruit and acidity that build on the finish. The texture of the palate is a highlight, courtesy of the supple lees and barrel influences. Most importantly, this is a good drink. 17.8/20 (92pts) $28.

Tahbilk – Marsanne – 2020. Aromatic and lifted, with sherbet, musk and floral fruit. Really quite delicious, if a little linear at present. Experience suggests that with bottle age, the palate will fill out and gain complexity and texture, transforming the wine. An Australian classic and a bargain to boot.  17/20 (89pts) $16.

Wynns – Cabernet Sauvignon – “Black Label” – 2018. Another amazing wine under this historic label. Intense, pretty floral fruit, that is elegant, balanced, refined and very long.  With a supple and textured mouth-feel, this is delicious now but also sure to build depth and power in the cellar. 18.3/20 (94pts) $40.

Shaw & Smith – Sauvignon Blanc – 2020. Fresh and lively, with pristine fruit. Excellent balance aided by zesty acidity and near seamless palate transition. Aiming for lightness on the palate rather than density, and a rewarding drink. 17.8/20 (92pts).

St Aiden – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – 2020. Dry and savoury with delicious ripe tropical fruit and gentle viscosity. Think green guava, passionfruit and pineapple, with a hint of musk, citrus and hint of saline tang. From Ferguson. 17.5/20pts (91pts) $20.

Smallwater Estate – Unwooded Chardonnay – 2020. This is well made, with decent fruit and texture, aided by gentle viscosity that adds mouth-feel. I would rather drink this than most NZ SB on a warm afternoon. 17/20 (89pts) $22

Aylesbury – Gamay – Q05 – 2020.  Vibrant and smashable. The souring cherry fruit adds texture, attractive astringency and souring acidity. A nouveau style full of berry fruit. 17/20 (89pts) $30    

Oakway Estate – Nero D’Avola – Il Vino Rosato – 2020. Made as a Rosé, this has an attractive pale salmon colour. Bright and fresh, with a supple saline tang and mouth-watering acidity. Almost chewy in texture, this could take some food. 16.8/20 (88pts) $25.

Wine Glasses Reviewed

Barry Weinman: 16th December 2020

Let’s be clear: glasses make a difference in two important ways.

The shape primarily affects the aromas that you perceive coming out of the wine related to surface area, as well as how the aromas are concentrated at the top. But the shape also plays an important role in where the wine lands on your tongue, which affects flavour perception as well.

The second important feature of a good glass is the presence of a cut rim. Cheap glasses tend to have a rolled rim, which theoretically makes the glass stronger and is presumably cheaper to make. The rolled rim works like a speed bump for the wine, impeding the smooth flow of wine onto your tongue.

A cut rim, however, delivers the wine onto the palate in a precise fashion, impacting on what flavour characteristics are perceived first.

If money is not an issue, then several companies will happily sell you a different glass for each type of wine that you are drinking.  But not only is this very expensive, it is also impractical, as over the course of a dinner party, you will go through dozens of glasses.

I have been doing extensive research over the last few months and came to a surprising conclusion: there is no single glass that is perfect. They all accentuate slightly different characteristics of a wine.

In general, a glass should be tulip shaped, so that the aromas are concentrated at the top. But the shape of the bowl affects the fruit characters. A wider bowl accentuates the berry aromas, whilst a narrower bowl tends to accentuate the structure (making the wine more tannic).

I also prefer a glass with a stem. Picking the glass up by the stem prevents the bowl from getting dirty, ensuring the wine looks as good at the end of the evening as it did at the start. But importantly, by using the stem, it stops your hand from warming up the wine too quickly.

Glasses do not need to be expensive. You can buy perfectly acceptable glasses from the big chains for only a few dollars per glass.

For me, the best all-purpose glass is the Riedel Vinum Riesling Grand Cru/Zinfandel glass. ($40). It makes everything from Champagne to Shiraz taste good, is attractive and is easy to fit into the dishwasher. I have been using this for years at home, and it is surprisingly durable.

For poolside entertaining, the Plumm Unbreakable Red+ ($40 for a set of four) is a versatile glass made from unbreakable polycarbonate. An excellent, affordable compromise.

NB. Whilst a good glass may be a bit more expensive, it is a small investment compared to the cost of the wines that you will put in it over its lifetime. If it only makes a small improvement to the enjoyment of the wine, then this is still a good investment.