Having only ever tasted one Australian Sauvignon Blanc and determined that this was probably not enough knowledge on which to claim that Australian wines are my favourite, I decided to attend the World of Wine - Australia and New Zealand Wine Tasting run by The Oxford Chelt Wine School.
The Oxford Chelt Wine School offer four and eight week courses, as well as individual tasting evenings, sometimes incorporating special themes. This evening was one of the latter, although almost everyone else in attendance was there as part of a course. Although I initially felt intimidated by this fact, everyone was chatty and friendly, and tucked heartily into the nibbles provided.
The organiser of the evening, Nick, was welcoming and engaging, and didn't make me feel uneducated for thinking the wine just smelt of 'alcohol'. With every new wine, Nick gave a short presentation on its characteristics and the region of Australia or New Zealand that it had come from.
At the end of the session, we had all unanimously decided on our favourites - an oaky Shiraz from South Australia with a bit of a kick and a fruity Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. Another highlight was the 'Tingleup' Riesling, if only for the amusing name.
To unashamedly steal Nick's words, Australia really has seen a 'sauvalanche of success', with an enormous boom in exports between the 1980s and 2000. All styles of wine can be made in Australia and we had several from the southern region on our menu for the evening. New Zealand was slightly later to the wine making game and is still primarily a country of beer drinkers. It is perhaps not surprising that we agreed on a Marlborough wine as our favourite, as 57% of New Zealand's wines are produced in this region.
The evening was thoroughly enjoyable and educational. These sessions are well-suited to anyone wishing to learn about wines, regardless of their level of prior knowledge. Whether to develop your own tastes or to become 'that wine person' at parties, I would highly recommend giving The Oxford Chelt Wine School's wine tasting a go.