Australia is referred to as the ‘New World' wine-producing nation. The New World hypothesis is that wine should be innovative, accessible; and liberal in flavour
Why is it that the world has embraced Australian wine with such enthusiasm?
Simple……Australian wines tend to be very approachable and easy to drink when they are young, yet many Australian wines are capable of being cellared for years and are considered assets.
All Australian wines show clearly on their labels the variety of grape used and the character of the wine. Many also suggest the best foods to complement the wine.
In Australian wine, often more than one variety of grape is used, so that different varietal characteristics complement each other to provide a better overall wine. For example Shiraz Cabernet is a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
Here’s a list of the major varieties of grapes used in Australian wine:
- Shiraz: Shiraz produces outstanding medium to full-bodied wines deep crimson in colour and with rich, ripe plum and pepper flavours.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon is the classic red variety with ripe cassis like flavour. Australia is famous for blends of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Merlot: Merlot wines are characterised by soft ‘rose petal’ like flavours. Historically, Merlot has been blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to produce a softer easy drinking wine.
- Grenache: Grenache wines are highly perfumed. Grenache is usually blended with Shiraz and is an ideal accompaniment for spicy foods, when served chilled.
- Pinot Noir: When blended with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir produces some of Australia’s greatest sparkling wines. Pinot Noir wines best accompany red meat dishes or gamy poultry.
- Chardonnay: Chardonnay produces sparkling and dry white wine styles. Chardonnay grown in warm regions produces ripe melon flavoured wine; in the cooler areas the flavours tend to be peach and citrus like. Some of Australia’s most popular Chardonnays are often blends of wines made from both regions. This versatile variety when blended with Pinot Noir makes Australia’s greatest sparkling wines.
- Riesling: Makes wonderfully perfumed dry elegant wines usually consumed young, fresh and stimulating, but capable of developing into exquisite aged wines. Riesling is best when served with light flavoured foods, seafood dishes particularly.
- Sauvignon Blanc: Semillon, often blended with Sauvignon Blanc produces a fresh and easy drink - an excellent accompaniment to seafood.
- Semillon: Semillon, most commonly blended with a small proportion of creamy Chardonnay offers an attractive green and grassy flavour.
Matching Australian wine with food:
A successful pairing of food with Australian wine more than doubles the pleasure they provide individually. The rule says that red wines go with red meats and cheese; and that white wines go with fish and white meats such as chicken. But sometimes it can be great fun to break the rules. You can create your own flair and style.
Making the ideal combination also depends on how the food is prepared. Light lemony sauces on fish or chicken calls for gentle citrus flavours of Riesling, Semillon Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Spicy, peppery Grenache Shiraz would be a perfect accompaniment to a subtly curried delicacy.