Wine: Crimes against the grape

By Yvonne Lorkin

I read an amusing article in the New Zealand Herald last month about the crimes people commit against wine.

The writer, Shelley Bridgeman, came clean about her unclassy habits, such as putting ice-cubes in her glass if she thinks the wine is too warm, or serving chardonnay that'd been previously forgotten about in the freezer.

She liked the classic "if the cork breaks, just push it down into the glass and fish the scraps out later" trick or, if a waiter in a restaurant puts a fresh glass of wine down on the table before she's finished the old one - she simply tips the remnants of the old into the new - where's the harm?

I wouldn't go so far as calling myself a wine snob, but there is, in my opinion, a right way and a wrong way of drinking and serving wine - no matter how much you've paid for it.

I'll admit I winced a bit during Bridgeman's tell-all, but it wasn't until I'd finished scrolling through the reader comments at the end that I decided there really was no hope and I needed a cup of tea and a lie down.

Farrst from Mt Eden said a "Full body [sic] Italian Red + Ribena is a nice mix," and J.D. said, "I usually pour half a glass of wine & top it up with either Diet Lift or Diet Sprite, or even better is grapefruit juice."

John has another way of opening a bottle of wine without a corkscrew: "Just knock the neck off. If you want to drink it straight from the bottle, hold the remains of the neck in your fist and let it run down your thumb."

Prime Number1 from Pukekohe announced, "The biggest wine crime is in my local Countdown. They have the red wine opposite the beer chillers. The wine is always way too cold" (which I sympathised with because they do that at my local supermarket, too).

Rodney from Howick writes, "Worst crime ever committed was done by someone that I dated. I brought a bottle of my favourite cabernet and was a bit miffed to see some sugar added to a glass to sweeten it up. Had I really known who I was dating, I would simply bring a cask of Chateau de Cardboard."

Right, well, the last word must go to Billy Batson, from Brisbane, who wrote, "Hey out there, all you happy winedots! If you like it and you enjoy it ... do it your way! Wine is to be enjoyed. There's no point in trying to do the "correct" thing if you don't enjoy it!"

Pinot fanatics unite!

Two of New Zealand's pinot noir aristocrats, Felton Road and Dry River, are joining forces for the Ultimate Pinot Weekend at The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs on Saturday, August 17 in Northland. Blair Walter will present wines from the library at Felton Road, including the single vineyard Calvert and Cornish Point wines alongside the highly collectible Block 3 and Block 5s.

Antony Mackenzie will present Dry River's cult pinot noir with a range of back vintages.

Both wineries are among New Zealand's most illustrious pinot producers, and this may be the only time you'll ever get to taste, side by side, past vintages from these two esteemed Kiwi pinot producers. Plus you'll be enjoying these highly sought after wines with a spectacular menu created by executive chef Dale Gartland. For reservations, contact Kauri Cliffs at or ph (09) 407 0010.

Home brew crew ...

The team at Crafty Beers is running a mass brew education workshop on Thursday, August 8, at Regional Wines near Wellington's Basin Reserve, assisted by Little Beer Quarter (LBQ), Fork & Brewer, and Parrot Dog Brewery. It will run from 11am to 3pm, and is a condensed version of the Brewers Guild Certificate in the Craft of Beer, but you'll still get your 11 credits and certificate.

Organisers Tom-the-Pom Jones and his wife, Vicki Yarker-Jones, have also negotiated a deal with the Brewers Guild to run the course for only $245 a person, a saving of $100 on the regular price. For full details see

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2010 $38

This has fantastic aromas of popcorn, grilled grapefruit and toasted coconut with lemon and mango sorbet. It's fresh, cleansing and, although a delicious drink now, it's destined for greater things if you can curb yourself from opening it for another couple of years.

Ryan Nelsen Central Otago Pinot Gris 2012 $15

He is a footballer, but he also appears to be a bit of a pro when it comes to choosing great wine to put his name to.

The spicy pear, quince and apple characters are classic pinot gris yet fans of a drier style will like its leanness and length.

Burn Cottage Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011 $60

Owned by Marquis and Dianne Sauvage, Burn Cottage wines are produced biodynamically using wild yeasts and all sorts of earthy love. Showing intense berry concentration, bittersweet cocoa, layers of bay and dried thyme, the wine reveals liquorice, shiitake mushroom and roast meat flavours.

Silky and savoury on the finish, it's built for the long haul.

If you think the wine sounds complex, just try deciphering the fabulously intricate artwork on the label.

Mills Reef Reserve Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Merlot 2010 $24

Dark and delicious! I love the prune, molasses, liquorice and dried rosemary aromas and flavours in this wine.

It feels slippery and succulent in the mouth, fresh, yet it has density, concentration and real palate presence.

It was just magic with my slow-cooked Chinese-spiced beef shin recipe, too.

- Hamilton News

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