Whether you are an avid wine connoisseur or a wine novice (no judgement here) we all have different tastes when it comes to grapes. We spoke to Ollie’s Italian Food & Beverage Manager Kevin Gabsi about seven of the industry’s top secrets to finding the perfect wine to delight your taste buds.
Your perfect wine match might not be on the list
Very often, we have wines in stock not listed for various reasons. A bottle left from a previous list, a surprising vintage, a sample from our beloved supplier or even a wrong delivery hidden in the cellar. Ask your waitstaff for any hidden gems and they are sure to pull out one that will be added to your must buy list.
Make it Special at no cost
Choose a wine when booking your table and ask the staff to decant it 45 minutes before your arrival. It doesn’t have to be an extremely expensive choice. This will enhance the characteristics of the wine and will show your guest you have been planning something special. Added bonus is the staff nine times out of ten will pay more attention at your table. It is simple and always works. Just do it and tell us how it went.
Older isn’t always better
Imagine three of us buy the same wine from a 2015 Vintage which we all store in the exact same conditions. Chances are the bottle I open today might taste better than the one you will open in 2023, but not as good as the one our friend will open in 2028. If you buy a case of wine, don’t freak out if the first bottle doesn’t taste amazing, it might taste better in a few years. Or might not. That’s the beauty of it.
Vintages also reflect climate and nature’s power. For example, our Australian fires have devastated lots of wine parcels this year. In 2030, a 2025 vintage might be worth more than a 2020. Wine lovers know what year was best for specific grappes, specific regions, and areas. In Europe we had special charts to learn specific vintages in order to buy well, and recommend to our guest the best possible choice.
Spend smart not big
I recently discovered the “Reverse Wine Snob Rating System” perfectly demonstrating what I am trying to say here.
In a restaurant to spend smart it’s easiest to have a chat with the wine guru at the restaurant and see what they recommend. Langmeil in the Barossa Valley has a fantastic and affordable range in my opinion with their Valley Floor Shiraz, Forest Hill in WA is going to be more and more present in the market, and keep an eye out for John Duval’s delicious Juice.
Sweet or dry? That is the question
In the industry, the term “sweet wine” means the level of sugar has been deliberately increased during the process of wine making. Most of the time if you asked for a sweet wine you have “technically” been served a dry wine and have been happy with it. We prefer to use the word “Fruity”. Dear Sav Blanc and Pinot Gris drinkers, that’s you I am talking about! Try a late harvest Riesling, a Botrytis or a Ice-wine if you want to sample a what sweet truly tastes like.
Go outside your comfort zone
When you go out to dine, most of the time you will pick something you can’t make yourself at home or maybe a little different. I suggest for that same reason you stop ordering wines you are familiar with, and try something new.
I have tried delicious Semillions from David Hook, amazing Albarino from Gotas de Mar, a fantastic Nebbiolo from Roccardo and a surprising Wild Sauvignon Blanc from Greywacke.
A little like Grenache tends to be more and more popular nowadays. Feel free to give a shot to blends: like a cocktail, multiple varietals are mixed to end up with a unique, balanced finish.
When you are asked to taste a wine prior to being served - say yes! It is common practise in Europe to try your wine first because cork can alter the wine quality and If you refuse and it is off, you can be charged for it.There are lots of other reasons why a wine could turn bad. In Australia, the temperature, light, humidity, storage, and transport are only a few examples. So, make sure to taste it so to avoid any disappointment!