When asked his favourite wine my father will reply: “Beer”. There are many attributes I’ve inherited from him. However, alcohol preference is not one. Whilst I look for notes of lime in a Clare Valley Riesling, he prefers it in a Corona.
I’m a firm believer that there is a wine out there for everyone… including a 55 year old, Serbian tradesman, otherwise known as Dad. Growing up in a European household, you are taught there is only one answer – a slight issue in the subjective world of wine. I have come to discover the Slavic brain fails to compute ambiguity.
Exhibit A: a Serbian, beer drinker was asked to critique a wine. Here’s loosely how the conversation took place.
Me: “Hey dad, what can you smell?”
Me: “good one *eye roll*… seriously what?”
Dad: “Nothing, this is all rubbish!”
*Audible gasps from the reader*
Now folks, I understand the frustration. I live it. But this is where we go wrong.
Everyone with a working nose can detect aromas, what they lack is the confidence to articulate them. One thing my father has taught me is the power of charm and charisma. And so the student becomes the master.
Me: “Dad, you have such a diverse palate and appreciation for flavour – I am sure you find something.”
Dad: *chest puffs* “Tij, you’re right – now that you mention it I can smell cherries.”
With that, the 2020 Running with the Bulls Tempranillo was not just a ‘grape’ – it had a ‘silky’ mouthfeel and those cherries were refined to ‘Morello’. His overall conclusion read like a customer experience rating: “this wine was very easy drinking”. We often describe wines in haiku, however the roofer makes a good point – why confuse a good thing?
De Bortoli Woodfired Shiraz 2019
I was apprehensive how cool climate flavours would go as higher acidity can be confronting to an entry level consumer. Think of it as milk and dark chocolate, this is less Cadbury milk, more Lindt 85%. With his new found confidence, descriptors were flying; ‘Baked lemon’ and ‘Tangerine’. I am about to tell him that citrus is associated with white wine, then it hit me. THIS is why people are intimidated by wine. As I got off my high horse, there was validity to dad’s notes: lemon verged on lemon pepper and there was an intriguing sweet balsamic glaze reminiscent of tangerine.
Glass swirling in the air – I witnessed my father’s wine epiphany. Paired with the Balkan staple, cevapcicis, it was clear why food and wine are the perfect marriage. “I reckon this paired with pepperoni pizza would be killer”. You laugh, but De Bortoli was on the same page. Their back label reading: “the perfect red wine to accompany a chargrilled ribeye or woodfired pizza”. Turns out this Serbian tradie was a sommelier.
Majella Musician Cabernet Shiraz 2018
A Coonawarra Cabernet is an impressionable character. Sure enough the synonymous eucalyptus aromas were met by Dad’s commentary: “If I was Blinky Bill this would be the wine I’d choose”. Coonawarra, there is your slogan. But what followed was the moment a man discovered the quintessential Aussie wine. “Is it possible to taste raspberry and blueberry?”. I saw his eyes widen as he literally put two and two together (Shiraz = raspberry, Cabernet = blueberry). It was this lightbulb moment that he realised, verbatim “wine isn’t just something you get pissed on”.
Mother’s Milk Shiraz 2018
An exception to the others, this was a wine my father has enjoyed in the past. What I wanted to understand was why. My suspicions…. this is one of those Cadbury milk chocolate wines I’d mentioned earlier. Low acid and a smooth, enticing mouthfeel. A nose of mixed berries: ‘strawberry, raspberry and blueberry’ Dad lists with enthusiasm. This abundance of fruit, I am told, is why he loves it. The verdict: a ‘boom taste’ that is the ‘ant’s pants’.
Through the combination of confidence, time and an open mind, a 55 year old, beer drinking, Serbian roofer discovered he was ‘not that much of a backyarder after all’.