Meet the Qwoff Boys, two of my favourite wine nerds …
I would like to introduce you to two lads who love wine – Andre and Justin, the founders of Qwoff, Australia’s largest social wine review site.
Self-confessed ‘Scruffy Gen X Winegeeks’, the boys have grown Qwoff into a community of close to 20,000 winelovers and are in the process of making a show called ‘Road to Vino’ that follows their global search for ‘bloody good wine’.
These clever lads have kindly shared insider information on finding an outstanding drop (or bottle, or case, as the case may be) …
1. How can you tell a good cellar door from a bad one? Are there any tricks you have picked up?
It’s about the experience you have there, plain and simple. But here’s our list of priorities, and it’s important to note the order, because no amount of #2 & #3 can make up for a bad experience on #1 :
Cellar door staff – good hospitality can make or break the whole experience.
Atmosphere – has to feel relaxed and welcoming. Standing at a bar with a small taster glass and a spit bucket is a crappy way to experience wine. Period.
Wines – can’t stand it when they are only showing a small portion of their range – usually only the cheap stuff. Don’t mind paying for a tasting flight.
2. How do you hold your own when you encounter a wine snob when you’re travelling around wine country?
Wine snobs are okay if they genuinely immerse themselves in good wine. Wine snobs who are all about show are painful. Wine is more spiritual than that, and therefore fiercely individual. The only rule should be not to limit yourself to what you know. But after that, it’s about personal taste, and that has no rules.
To be honest, we have quite a broad knowledge of wine, so informed opinion usually shuts up the most avid wine snob. But for your average punter vs the wine snob – seriously, who cares? It’s yum or it’s yuk for you. The rest is just details.
3. What are the three keys things you should be taking note of when you taste a wine at a cellar door?
Technically it’s look, smell and taste.
More specifically the colour of the wine and a few other details about the way it looks in the glass – seriously though, do you like the colour of the wine? Does it tempt you.
Swirl it round in the glass to release the aromas, and sniff. Stick your nose right in there.
The smell is basic – is there anything funky/unpleasant in there – wet cardboard, rotten eggs, nail polish, bandaids? No? Good. How intense is the smell? What do you smell – Strawberries? Chocolate? Spices?
And then sip it. Decent sip. Swoosh it round your mouth like mouthwash, savour the feel, the flavours. Suck some air in between your teeth without letting the wine drip out – the air opens out the wine, intensifying the flavour. Then spit or swallow, and reflect on what you’ve just experienced:
Was the flavour intense, or insipid? Was it rich, or light? Are you salivating (good acid), did the flavour last a long time in your mouth, like 15-20 seconds or more? (length). Does your mouth feel chalky? (tannins) In a good way (silky) or bad way (rough). Was there too much alcohol, or too much oak? Did the flavours sit well? Did the wine FEEL good in your mouth? Was it an aggressive experience, or a silky smooth one?
Bottom line – DID YOU ENJOY IT????
4. What are your three favourite cellar doors and where are they?
Here are 3 good ones: Samuel’s Gorge (McLaren Vale), BK Wines (Adelaide Hills), Murray St Vineyard (Barossa)
5. In your expert opinion, is wine tourism growing in Australia? If so, why is that? Are we all just a bunch of alcos pretending to be grown-ups?
Don’t know if it’s growing, in terms of visitor numbers, but it’s definitely improving. More experiences, better experiences. And no, hopefully a wine tour isn’t about getting pissed, although that often happens – you can do that just as well in a pub. It’s about food, wine and escape.
I think it’s improving because regions and wineries are constantly evolving.
6. Will you take all of us on a wine tour some time?
We’re always up for a designated driver. Pretty keen to get over to Margaret River again, though the Nullabor could provide a challenge to the old kombi. But who’s up for a surf and a chardonnay?