Buying a wine fridge

Been collecting wine for a while? In the market for a wine fridge? Well there’s a few things you should think about first. A friend asked me the other day and I’m by no means an expert, but I thought I’d share my experience with a wider audience :). Firstly wine fridges are cool. They tell your mother in law exactly what your priorities are in life. Strangely, any Masterchef watching wannabe foodie suddenly goes quiet on the topic of wine, shockingly in awe of your amateurish wine snob diligence. They’re known to stop in their tracks at the site of the fridge! But should you get a wine fridge or stick to racks. I’d say don’t bother unless you’re going to keep your wine for at least 2-3 years. Because you really need to take your bottles out the day you want to drink them and stand them upright to let it warm up. This also lets the sediment settle if it’s really old. If you take it out of the fridge and start drinking, it will taste frigid, cold and ruddy awful. And then, all your efforts were in vain. You’d be better off putting them in a room in your house that’s never heated or at a constant temp and putting boxes over it to block the light. As much as I’ve had some great wine thanks to the fridge, I’ve had some spontaneous awful ones as well that were an absolute waste. My wine fridge was from Aldi and cost approx $250 AUD. It holds approx 45 standard bottles. Sometimes chain stores such as Target...

Sotano tapas bar review

For a special occaision, I decided to succumb to The Age’s Epicure to guide my gastronomic destiny. Nothing like going blind and putting all your money on black. Frankly it didn’t work out too well. Sotano is at the Hilton, that is the new Hilton, which is in the new part of Melbourne – the Docklands/Southbank. It is utterly impossible to navigate to. Coming from South Yarra we were at least 20 minutes late because The Hilton is hindered by copious construction sites and obfuscated by really stupid entrances. By the time you find the car park you will be too hungry for tapas. Bollocks. Well as far as tapas goes, it’s nothing remarkable. I do agree with Epicure that the charcuterie and cheese boards are kind of cool. Movidas though has real personality in the tapas dishes that Sotano just doesn’t have. Strangely you must have to ask for some phone book wine list. Because on the menu there’s only wine by the glass despite two massive elevated walk in wine fridges over the bar. Those are well worth a guided tour from the somellier. Highly recommended. All in all after 9pm, the service really, really sucks. The beautiful staff with their very thuper thexy hair styles look busy you’d have more luck getting a drink in a nunnery. By this time, the ‘classic Hilton burger’ is really starting to look like an option over waiting for another round of Sangria and tiny tapas. If you’re a bright, shiny objects person, this place is new, immersive and very now. Moreover if you think the Docklands is just fantastic...

Are Australians wine snobs?

In a recent press Johannesburg press conference, Jeremy Clarkson was asked what he thought about South African wine. His comment, ‘well it’s better than Australian wine’. Given that the poms love to go Aussie bashing, it was to be expected. But it got me thinking, has the average Aussie tried a South African wine? Australia is a definitive ‘new world’ wine country. So we should be free of the snobbery of the Champagne or Alsace region of France where appellations are mandated and chateaus centuries old. You’d think we’d be open minded about wine. Sadly not. I put it to the average ‘long in the leg, thick in the head Aussie’ that you are the world’s most unmitigated wine snob. You buy all your wine from the one shop (Dan Murphys). For those of you who came in late or are not Aussies, Dan Murphys is a booze supermarket, like a Wal Mart dedicated to everything alcoholic. Good to save a few bucks, but just like Wal Mart, you save a bundle on somethings and get totally ripped off. Worse than that, you’re not getting any story behind the wine, you hardly ever meet the makers and you’re served by some spotty git that only knows what’s good because the manager always knicks it. Their ‘cellar’ is an industrial warehouse the size of Belgium and that’s about it. There’s no guy with a beard that could tell you everything from the etymology of the name of the terroir of the soil. Secondly, all your information comes from at best two sources, Jeremy Oliver (no not the celebrity chef) and...

Is duty free a rip off?

In my travels in Arequipa Peru, we decided to venture out of tourist town into Normalville. In our travels, we came across a bottle shop, so I took a look. Wouldn’t you know it, booze is pretty cheap in Peru. A bottle of local rum is about 15 Soles ($5 AUD), Johnny Walker Red 30 Soles ($10) and black label for well under $30 AUD. Even in department stores, they had better prices! So logically wouldn’t you think that the duty free shop would be even cheaper? Not by a long shot. Because these prices aren’t for Joe Gringo. Prices at the duty free airport for a bottle of Johnny Black were about the same as they’d be in Dan Murphys at home. Full retail price! Naturally this is all a bit of a rort and sadly given that I’m not that well traveled, I’m really curious to see if you’ve com!e across anything similar in your travels. Please leave comments and let me know. Otherwise, if you’re off to Peru, enjoy the cheap booze and leave some space in your...

Cho Gao asian beer cafe.

When you think Asian beer garden, you might think outdoor furniture, random chaos, icy cold beer and great hawker food. Hot and stinky, yet the patrons wouldn’t have it any other way. Not so at Cho Gao. Take all the bad things about a swanky, pretentious inner city bar, mixed with all the bad things from a swanky, overpriced pretentious inner city bar and you have Cho Gao. You could start with the kitschy Chinese decorations, or the faux rustic brick wall on the boucany. Or even go as far as saying $12 for 3 satay skewers is beyond ridiculous. But it’s the lack of service which is truly exceptional. While there are some Asian staff hidden away from sight in the kitchen, the staff here look about as Asian as the token white guy in a Kung Fu movie. Better still, a ham sandwich. Now an Asian beer garden should have Asian beer. Well think again. They only had Kirin First Press on tap and I couldn’t see any others bottled (well maybe Chang). No Tsing Tao, Asahi or especially my favourite Japanese micro brews. I can’t personally vouch for the quality of my $21 chicken curry though. Because it never came. The kitchen must’ve loved it so much they took it to the framers. Those that did eat, got their meals 5 minutes before their rice came. When I finally cancelled the meal, about the time my mates were finishing theirs, there was no apology from the head waiter. He was ran off his feet attending a half full restaurant. If you like a cultural experience devoid...

Trentham Estates Petit Verdot – the turkey wine

This year it was a big call for what to match to the Christmas turkey. There were a few cherryish pinots from the Yarra Valley which i’ve grown fond of, but they’re nowhere near ready yet. There are big cab savs, but you’d need a really old one that had a bit of grace about it. This was the year for an odds on bet. I took out a 2002 Petit Verdot. Make no mistake this is not a trendy wine. For a start it’s from the Murray Valley region, not some glitzy South Australian region. It’s also worth saying that despite the five gold medals on the label (not like the bottle pictured), it cost less than twenty bucks in a corner store. What it was, from this winery and in this vintage, was a sensation. This verdot, with five years in the bottle, had been aged properly and had lost its harsh tannins. It had a very luxurious fruit/acid balance, with a subtle tinge of cranberry that suits roasted turkey. Mouth finish was viscous and bang on perfect. If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen verdot anywhere it’s simple. It’s not cool. It’s been an anonymous blender in Bordeaux blends since Adam was a boy and the vine looks like brambles in full bloom. When most wine makers will only mix about 4% of petit verdot with a Shiraz or something red, you get the idea how hard it is to make 100% of it taste great. So my advice to you is this. If you see a 2002 Trentham Estates verdot, just buy it and drink...