Friday, December 16, 2011

Overseas Travel A Reason For A Holiday From Wine?

These days, I find myself taking a break from drinking wine when travelling overseas. It is not absolute, but I observe it most days. Why is this so? There are three reasons:

1) Imports to Australia from the major wine producing countries have grown strongly, not just in volume, but also in breadth of offerings. Specialist retailers offer now good ranges of wines from France, Spain and Italy. Germany and Austria are still poorly represented and dominated by a small number of marketing savvy companies. US wines are still expensive despite the currency shift. By and large, there is no need to travel to the Northern Hemisphere to experience the wines produced there (an exception are the Blaufraenkisch wines from Southern Germany. Warm vintages have produced excellent examples of this variety, only available in Germany, but take note: MacForbes is now growing this variety in the YarraValley).

2) Australian wines tend to be more consistent and predictable in quality than European wines. This is pretty much true at each price point. Therefore, if you do not know what you are ordering in Europe, you are bound to experience quite a few disappointments.

3) My main wine source overseas would be restaurants. The mark-ups there are significant: usually 300-500% for the better wines. The reason is that wine lists tend to be large and therefore stock holding costs substantial. High prices in turn do not encourage frequent purchases. Not an enticement.

What are your experiences?

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