Wine tasting at Barossa Valley, South Australia / by Jessica Lee

South Australia is known for its wineries. Since we were in the area, we decided to head to Barossa Valley and get cultured (read: drunk) in true Adelaide fashion.

We went with a tour since both Myra and I don’t drive/can’t drive while going wine-tasting. The tour was a little overpriced considering the tastings are free, but since there were no other options except for hiring a car, then hiring some random person with a license and trusting them to not crash/ drive us off to be sold to sex traffickers/ kidnap us; going on a tour was pretty much the only way to go.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Adelaide is full of friendly people, so these possibilities likely wouldn’t have happened, but there are also plenty of sketchy people out there and it’s best to not be naïve about such things.

The first stop of the tour took us to the town (or village?) of Gumeracha, home of the world’s biggest rocking horse. We were somewhat impressed, but not really.

Here is a photo: If you look closely, you can see Myra standing under the horse.

I think we were more impressed by the peacocks running around.

The next stop was our first winery, Wolf Blass, which has German origins. According to the guide, lots of Germans moved to South Australia to farm back in the day.

We were also taught on the best way to taste wine, which is to drink it two to three times and swish the wine around your mouth.

At wine tastings, it’s not expected that you drink everything they pour you, so they also offer a spitting cup, which I avoided at first because I didn’t want to waste any wine, but as I grew progressively tipsier, pouring the leftover wine I didn’t want just made sense.

We tried a variety of Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet and Moscato wines.

Personally, I think knowing the basics about wine is essential general knowledge for the modern day renaissance man/woman . As long as you’re not snobby about it, it’s good to know the difference between the wines. For example, in reds, Shiraz is generally sweeter than Cabernet as Cabernet is made with herbs and Shiraz is made with plums, black currents and other fruits. Also, you’re not allowed to call Chardonnay not made in the Champagne region of France “champagne”, even though they are essentially the same thing being that they both are white sparkling wines.

I can tell there is plenty I don’t know about wines and I hope to explore this further one day in a sommelier course- perhaps I will take this in France.

One more random fact though: bottles with steel caps keep wines fresher than cork caps as it makes the oxidation process slower.

The whole day had an indulgent atmosphere. I felt like a Roman where back in the day, they would eat as much as they wanted, enjoying the abundant food and wine, then throw it all up so they could eat more.

We were taken for lunch at Vine Inn, which is where I had my last meal of Kangaroo. It wasn’t cooked the way I liked (medium), but it was still a good way to end my last day in Australia, as I probably won’t be eating Kangaroo for a while. 

The meal was topped off a huge slice of mixed berry cheesecake, leaving me utterly full.

Still, we had three more wineries to go to before we could call it a day.

It was at this point where I felt somewhat queasy. All the wines from Wolf Blass and the food at Vine Inn were incredibly decadent. It was not a good feeling, but I soldiered on as we headed to Lambert Estate.

We tried all sorts of wines, a couple of dozen in total. You can smell the different flavours; nutty, lemon, cherry, vanilla, strawberry, oak, pear, citrus… I absolutely loved being exposed to such a large variety of wines.

My favourite wines I have discovered are alfresco wines, which are typically lighter in alcohol content and sweeter. My favourite so far was the Dolcetto shiraz Frizzante at Grant Burge. It was sweet and fruity.

 Another of the wines I enjoyed was the 2011 Spring Rose at Kies (which means ‘little stones’ in German). It has a “nose of rose petals and strawberries”, according to its description. I wrote that it was “fresh and light-tasting”. Honestly one day I would like to be able to describe foods with the impressive vocabulary wine/food tasters have.

I wrote down a mini review of every single wine I tried, because it’s good to keep track of what you like and don’t like. I also notice now as I’m reading back on my reviews that my writing got progressively wobblier as the day went on. Some it I can’t make out now.

We also tried dessert wines, which are sweeter wines. One of them was mixed with chocolate, which everyone loved, but I thought tasted too syrupy. It’s easy to be influenced by popular opinion, but now after all the tasting, I know exactly what I like in wines.