Sam Wigan has been busy. Over the past few weeks, the Running With Bulls winemaker has flown across the country to host Meet Your Maker – a series of bacchanalian feasts for a few lucky Smith readers.
Beyond making the eminently quaffable Spanish varietal wines at the heart of each evening, Wigan’s main task was to act as a dispeller of booze-based mistruths.
Here are four things we didn’t know we didn’t know about wine that we learnt between sips...
1. You Can Drink Your Red Wines Cold
Or cold-ish. We inherited the concept of drinking reds at ‘room temperature’ from Europe, where the rooms/cellars tend to be on the cooler side. But if you’re in Australia during the summer (or in northern Australia ever), you’re going to want to knock a few degrees off that bottle – especially if it’s something aromatic, like a garnacha. Just whack it in the fridge for half an hour and you’ll be right.
2. Red Wine Goes with Fish (and White Goes with Steak)
Not a blanket rule, but Mediterranean wines in general (and Spanish wines in particular) are muchos versatile, meaning a lot of the received wisdom about food and wine pairings can be thrown out the window. An aromatic tempranillo can perfectly complement something like whitebait and Spanish omelette, while a verdejo, brimming with herbal notes of oregano and oyster shell, can work great with steak tartare. We were sceptical, but the proof was definitely in the strangely paired pudding.
3. South Australia is the Spain of the South
Kinda. Back when Wigan was trying to decide what wines he should make, he took a look at his South Australian vineyard. Then he took a look at a map of the world, and realised something interesting: if you transposed the northern hemisphere over the southern one, Spain and South Australia more or less line up perfectly. The science checks out – both places share a comparable climate, meaning his vineyard would be perfect for Spanish varieties like verdejo and tempranillo. Best as we can tell, that’s where the similarities between the two places end. But that’s more than enough for us.
4. Sweet Doesn’t Mean Sugary
Okay, there is a lot of sugary wine out there. But sometimes what feels like sugariness is actually a bunch of other things working in tandem. Case in point: the final wine sampled at Meet Your Maker was an Eden Valley albarino. While the tip (aka the sweet-detecting part) of this reporter’s tongue felt like it was getting a good workout, Wigan assured the room there was actually no residual sugar in the bottle. The reason for the taste was twofold: firstly, the wine was kept on lees (the solids produced by yeast during fermentation) for a good while, which adds suppleness to the palate. Secondly, the grapes were picked on the riper end of the spectrum, meaning the alcohol was on the higher side (12.9 per cent). Turns out this can add a perceived sweetness without stacking on the kilojoules. Score!