Well, I’ve been here a few days, the winery tours and official part starts tomorrow. But I’ve been drinking a bit of wine here and there so here goes with some first impressions.
Well, the drinking culture here seems quite divided. There is a big macho beer culture as well as a few people around who clearly like more than a drink or two. Alongside that there is quite a sophisticated wine culture that wants to distance itself from the former category!
It was a real surprise to me to arrive on Bank Holiday Friday and find that I could not get a drink because all the pubs shut at 10pm. Sydney is vibrant, vital and cosmopolitan so the short hours seemed very out of place – not at all like London or Euarope. Also, alcohol sales seem quite regulated. As in the US alcohol is sold in specific stores not alongside general groceries. It feels as little as though it is something dangerous, to be controlled and restricted.
Drinks are pretty expensive. I’ve been paying in the region of £5 to £9 a 125ml glass. A bottle in the liquor store starts around £12. Restaurant lists and wine stores sell 95% Australian wine –national pride I suppose!
What I have been really impressed with though is the general quality of the wine. Even moderate level restaurants are serving up something with real concentration, flavour and balance. They offer a range of styles that would often be missing at home and I’ve not found the bland, sweetened up, house wines we get so much of.
If there is theme to what I’ve tasted so far it is perhaps the concentration of flavour. The wines seem big bold and rich, with lots of bright primary fruit. Just like Australia is supposed to be I suppose – welcoming, vibrant and easy to like. And that seems a pretty good start to me.