How do you pick your wine?

Today I was lucky enough to be invited to a sneak peek of some of the wines that will be on show at the New Zealand Boutique Wine Festival next month. I managed to slot this wonderful opportunity to taste some of our country’s most delicious – and mostly undiscovered – wine in between several other equally glamorous jobs; you know, like pre-roasting the butternut for tonight’s soup, doing a quick recipe test and getting a load of washing on. That kind of glamourous.

The event was held at the very gorgeous venue The Wine Cave, and nine of the 33 wineries that will be exhibiting in Auckland on June 10th were there to give a few of us a taste of some of the boutique wines that are being produced around New Zealand. Needless to say, I fell in love with a couple of them straightaway; Lone Goat Vineyard’s Ehrenfelser (left) was deliciously light, while Peacock Sky, on Waiheke Island, have created a bubbles that they serve as part of their degustation dinner at the vineyard. (Think I might be paying this one a visit!)

Top of the pile for me though, was the natural wines from Silver Wing Wine. All naturally fermented, the wines don’t look like you’d expect, but the cloudiness is caused simply by not adding anything to the wine, and simply allowing it to do its thing – and it’s fantastic. I’d pick one as a favourite, except I can’t. They are honestly all absolutely delicious. Given that most of the experts say organic and traditionally-made wines are the way of the future, I reckon Silver Wing winemaker Andrew Fox is going to be very busy!

But as I listened to Kiwi master sommelier Curtis Marsh tell stories of how New Zealand wine has changed since he first started learning about wine, it made me think: what makes us choose the wine we pick? I came up with a few reasons. Which one’s you?

  • Habit. You know what you like – why risk getting something different?
  • Price. If you can find a wine you like for under $15 a bottle, why not?
  • Label. It’s just pretty!
  • Origin/country. Maybe you buy wine from a certain country because you like it?
  • Recommendation. You go out for dinner, and the wait staff suggest something that goes with your meal.
  • Colour. You know you’re a white wine kind of girl!
  • Sustainability. You’ll pick an organic wine if you can find it and you know it tastes OK.

Perhaps there’s another reason – but the truth is, we’re all creatures of habit, especially when it comes to wine. And as I tasted these fantastic wines, many of which are from tiny wineries all over NZ, it occurred to me, not for the first time, that if we don’t try new things, we don’t learn. You don’t need to have genius tastebuds to appreciate a really delicious wine, and in New Zealand we make some stunning varietals.

So next time you’re out for dinner, or picking your wine, don’t just go for the usual – try something different. Preferably from a small New Zealand vineyard. It’s absolutely worth its weight in gold.

The New Zealand Boutique Wine Festival takes place on Sunday 10th June at Imperial Buildings, Fort Lane. For more information visit