Friday, March 25, 2011


I've had Alan Young's 'Australian Wines & Wineries' in my collection for years now. The image here, shows just how well its dust cover's worked. Published in 1983, it presents a relatively comprehensive look at Australia's wine scene of the time, albeit significantly less detailed and comprehensive than James Halliday's 1985 'The Australian Wine Compendium'.

Much of the information in 'Australian Wines and Wineries' appears unsurprisingly outdated now, but my favourite extract from Young's book, written in the age of cork domination, still sounds relevant today.

On page 188, when discussing wine service, under the heading of 'When Dining Out', Alan writes:-

'If, as diner/host, you are paying full price for a meal (rather than receiving it at no cost) you should expect - and demand - the following services at any good establishment:-
9. Opportunity to taste the poured wine carefully. If not satisfied, do not accept. Pouring is in any case a ridiculous charade, and this is the quickest way to stop it.'

I like it. On many occasions, when I've been presented a 'taste' of (screwcapped) wine when dining out, the (unspoken) thought that comes into my mind runs something along the lines of; "Hmm. This Coonawarra cabernet smells like it needs at least another hour in a decanter. But in an hour I'm going to be eating your coconut mango ice cream, so you better pour up now. So what was the point of that?" However, the words that come out of my mouth are; "Yes, fine..."

But then, on the following page (189), as if to reiterate how some things have changed over the years, Alan writes with further reference to restaurants:-

'A first class establishment will have a wide selection of domestic and imported wines of various vintages, e.g. Penfolds Hermitage, Wolf Blass Grey and Black Labels, Yalumba Signature Series, the grand crus of both Burgundy and Bordeaux. They will not offer current vintage dry reds on their wine list.'


  1. Chris, I have a Len Evans hardcover from about the same time. Maybe late 70s? My favourite line reads something like, "although Chardonnay is not widely planted in Australia, it is a variety that holds some promise for the future". BTW - wine is offered for tasting so it can be assessed for faults, rather than for its appeal. Wouldn't you generally already know what you're in for when you place the order for the one-year-old Cabernet?

  2. You're right joshgtv, I regularly make irrational decisions, not the least of which occur when it comes to wine purchasing sometimes :/

    I always find it interesting perusing through old wine books to see how certain aspects of the wine industry have changed. I'd hate to think what someone could find picking through Australian Wine Journal in future times!

  3. p.s. I have some interesting first person, true tales in regards to the pour and taste experience (don't we all?), which I've been tempted to post. That's if anyone's interested....

  4. Thanks mate :) I'll keep it in mind

  5. I am a wine's fan and I feel happy that you guys still keep rare book about wine services. Could you share experience u learn from there and also upload picture as illustration

  6. I have no shortage of old wine books round here, so I'll see what I can do :)

    I never figured them as rare though :)