I write this column from atop my high horse. I’ve been riding this particular steed for quite a while and intend never to get off till I get my way. And trust me people I’m a hefty bloke with some pretty serious saddle sores right now, so for god’s sake please pay attention.
Australian wine does not have nearly enough representation on the better wine lists of Sydney and Melbourne. And it pisses me off. And it has done so for more than a decade. And I thought it might be improving, but it’s not.
Last month I was invited for the fifth year, to be a panel member judging the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Wine Lists of the Year. Big lists, short lists and regional lists and the winners will be announced on September 1. There are some terrific lists, cleverly constructed that understand that bigger is not always better, that empathy with the food is essential and that supporting local “producers” includes the wine grower as well as the pig farmer.
And then there are the “others”. The ones that think they are “on trend” by being deliberately obscure; ignoring local wines that might simply be too easily understood and accessible.
And then . . ., ooh baby, then . . . . there’s my particular bete noir; the hypocritical locavore.
The bloke (and it’s ALWAYS a bloke) who forages the weeds from his median strip and blends them with the whey from the cow he keeps in his yard and the salt he pans from the Alexandria canal . . . oh god, it’s all so painfully LOCAL and ON TREND, it might just make you grow a beard.
But when I see his drinks list, I really want to hurt a hipster because, yep no surprises here, 90% of his wine list has travelled halfway round the world, in big clumsy, heavy bottles with stupid waxy tops and contents that look like the urine sample of a man with just one functioning kidney.
I’m sorry but I call a big, fat, BULLSHIT on that sort of behaviour.
For mine it shows that the person in charge of this restaurant is a chef, not a restaurateur, and that’s bad for business.
I could understand this dire situation prevailing if we lived in, say Wales or Kenya or even Thailand but we don’t. We reside in one of the most clever, brilliant, diverse and exciting wine producing nations in the world and we are getting too widely ignored on our own shores.
If I was in government (and you can be glad I’m not) I would be bloody legislating against this sort of behaviour. I’d be banging on louder than Senator Crazypants from Queensland – and making a hell of a lot more sense.
I have nothing against wines from all over the world; I love them and drink them all the time, but I reckon an outstanding wine list should offer diners the best of both worlds – wacky wines and drinkable wines and an opportunity to discover something they didn’t know they had, possibly right here on their own doorstep.
So think local, eat local and drink local. It will make you a better human.