I have recently met some people that feel embarrassed about not liking wine. They feel socially ostracised and forced into putting up with it and want to feel part of the crowd when everyone else is drinking.

Look, you don’t have to like wine if you simply don’t like the taste. It is not a crime and you should not feel like a fish out of water when everyone else is discussing their latest cellar door trips. But is does help if you know a bit about the subject.
If that remotely sounds like you then here are a few points to bridge the gap and not appear social inept if you are confronted with the burden of wine as a non-wine drinker.

  1. Check your glassware at home. Throw out the crappy old ‘Paris goblet’ small glasses or the odd set you inherited after the last house party. Buy a set of 6 moderately large tulip shape glasses, preferable from glassmakers such as Riedel and Schott Zwiesel. An example would be Riedel Vinum series Chianti glasses that could be used for both red or white wine.
  2. Ensure you hand polish these glasses when people are coming round. Nothing worse than a dirty smeared glass.
  3. Purchase a simple clear decanter that holds a bottle of red wine, avoid cut glass. This hides the name of the wine you are serving. If asked tell them red wine is better if it is ‘aerated’ and that is the way wine is served at home in Europe, in a jug, without any pretentiousness.
  4. Majority of wine is now sealed with a screw cap but you will probably need a corkscrew at some stage, if people are bringing wine to your home. So buy a pulltaps corkscrew (about $20) don’t buy a cheaper one, they are easy to use and please don’t waste your money on expensive contraptions that do, what is, a simple job.
  5. In a restaurant if the selection is up to you then buy a middle of the road wine, price wise, not the cheapest, but not the most expensive ones. These often represent the best value for money. However we are slowly moving back to generic ‘house wine’ and sometimes these represents value for money. If it is a good restaurant house wine should have been well selected. Alternatively, if a wine savvy person is holding the list and asks for your preferences tell them you recently enjoyed a natural, bio-dynamically grown Rakatsiteli wine from Georgia made in an amphorae and can you they find anything similar.
  6. Whether in a restaurant or shop and the selection is down to you then here are two suggestions. If you need a red wine then buy a Pinot Noir, it demonstrates a more sophisticated taste and if questioned on your selection then tell them that Pinot Noir is a great food match and a good wine to digest, being light on the stomach.
  7. For a white wine buy a Pinot Grigio (or another Italian white grape) or Semillon and say you prefer wines that sit behind the food and not dominate it.
  8. When you go to your local bottleshop/ local retailer if you see a wine plastered with medal stickers then look where they won the medal, make sure it is GOLD or a trophy winner and choose the wine that won gold from an Australian capital show such as Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Canberra or Adelaide.
  9. If you’ve been sent to hunt a certain grape variety in a shop or restaurant then choose it from a classic region which are in very general terms:
    1. Shiraz. Try Barossa Valley, Clare Valley or Hunter Valley (the last one is better for generalfood matching but saidly not as popular as the first two)
    2. Chardonnay. Try Margaret River, Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills, Mornington Peninsula
    3. Cabernet Sauvignon. Try Coonawarra, Margaret River, Yarra Valley
    4. Sauvignon Blanc. Try Marlborough, Adelaide Hills or a Margaret River blend
    5. Semillon. Try Hunter Valley or a Margaret River blend
    6. Riesling. Choose Clare or Eden Valley
    7. Pinot Noir. Try Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley or Tasmania
    8. Sparkling. Choose Tasmania or just buy Champagne
    9. Blends. Look for Shiraz Viognier from Canberra or GSM from Barossa Valley.
  10. If you still fail to bluff your way through wine then get educated and enrol in a course at the Sydney Wine Academy and or Purchase the Australian Wine Guide. At ‘school’ you spit the wine out so you still don’t have to drink it!