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Learning What A Sommelier Does

 

If you indulge in wine, you know there are times when it can be intimidating to order wine from the massive list, or maybe you can’t find a recognized brand on the menu. Where do you start? Well, when you come on a Creasy Bears Wine Tour, we can give you a hand. But what about when you are not with us? It’s easy, ask the sommelier. They can assist you in finding good values on the wine list, or even make a recommendation of exclusive wines not printed on the least. Who or what is a sommelier? Originating from the French, it was a term used to describe wine stewards who were serving royalty. In modern definition, a sommelier is a trained, knowledgeable, and responsible wine steward professional who knows detailed information about the wine. They include things like types of grapes used, the region the grapes were grown and its vineyards, the wine’s rating, and the various vintages of wines.

 

 

What A Sommelier Does

 

 

Other than serving wine, a sommelier has numerous other responsibilities to fulfill. Generally, sommeliers are on the road a lot as they taste new wines and attending food and wine conventions. So what do they do?

 

 

Duties In Restaurants

 

 

Sommeliers can often be found in fine-dining establishments, and the list of responsibilities they have to perform is comprehensive. It’s the job of a sommelier to make the patron feel comfortable while ordering and tasting wine as they also help them select one within their price range. They create and prepare the wine list, train waitstaff personnel about wine, order and manage the wine inventory, and also interact directly with the patrons. They are tasked with making wine suggestions that complement particular food types using their knowledge about wine pairing. They also do the wine serving and decanting.

 

 

Duties In Wineries

 

 

Naturally, wineries will hire sommeliers who have extensive knowledge about the vineyards, grapes, and wines associated with the winery. During their time there, sommeliers will teach and develop training courses. In these courses, winery guests will get to learn how to taste and recognize various wines. Their duties here will entail organizing and hosting winery tours as they assist visitors select wines that suit their taste preferences and budget.

 

 

Example of a famous sommelier;

 

 

Arvid Rosengren – Born in south Sweden Arvid rose to prominence back in April 2016 after winning the title of world’s best sommelier from a gruelling four day competition consisting of 60 sommeliers and was live-streamed to the rest of the world. He lives in downtown New York now, but spends most of his days at Charlie Bird, where he’s the wine director. Interestingly, Arvid originally studied nanotech engineering but diverted to wine afterward. His new-found status has brought him lucrative deals that include international tastings and dinners and occasionally helping American Airlines in their selections.

 

 

Modern sommeliers can typically be found across the hospitality industry and fine restaurants. So if you’re unsure about a certain brand of wine, fear not; a sommelier can act as your guide to finding the perfect wine for the occasion or meal. Like a bartender, a sommelier is a cultured and elegant person who is humorous, unobtrusive, and sociable enough to engage with clients as they stimulate their interest in food and drink.

History Of Wine In Australia

 

Australia has a rich wine, vine, and family history that includes more than 200 years of winemaking and viticulture. But how did a continent with no native grapevines manage to become one of the top ten wine capitals of the world? In fact, Australia is the 6th largest wine producer, ranking behind France, Italy, the United States, Spain, and Argentina, although there are reports that China actually ranks third in the world, bumping Australia down to 7th place. Although every state in Australia produces wine, the southern states are the most productive as the climate is cooler there. More than 70 grape varieties are grown in Australia with Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Pinot Noir topping the list. You’ll see this yourself on one of our Creasy Bear Shoalhaven Winery Tours

 

Unlike the Americas and Europe where native grapevines existed, Australia had to import their grapevines from other regions. Wine manufacture can be traced back to its settlement in 1788 when the first grapevine cuttings were brought to Australia by Governor Arthur Phillip on his ship The First Fleet from the Cape of Good Hope. These vines were planted on a site called Farm Cove in the area now known as Sydney. Even though these first plantings did not produce the hoped-for legendary first Australian vintage because humidity and intense heat caused them to rot, the introduction of grapevines to the area marked the beginning of wine production in Australia. Numerous vineyards were established and by the 1890s wines were being produced in the popular Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley, and Barossa Valley areas.

 

In the early 1800s John MacArthur, an aspiring winemaker, planted grapes on his Camden Park property southwest of Sydney. His ability to cultivate and produce wines and sell them for profit caused him to become widely credited with cultivating the first commercial winery and vineyard in Australia. He mainly cultivated Pinot Gris, Gouais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Frontignac, and Verdelho varieties and by the 1920s the Australian wine trade was flourishing.

 

A man named James Busby had a major influence on early wine production in Australia. In 1933 he brought vine cuttings to Australia from France and Spain, introducing the now-famous Australian Syrah or Shiraz variety.  This was followed by other European grapes such as Merlot, Chardonnay, and Grenache.

 

In 1975 the devastation of phylloxera, a disease caused by a tiny yellow insect that caused grapevines to shrivel up and die, hit Australia just as it began to receive worldwide acclaim. The majority of vines were lost before a cure was found by vintners who discovered that vines native to the Americas were resistant to the disease as they were genetically different from European varieties which were at high risk. They ingeniously planted American vines but grafted European varieties to the vine to create a kind of “Franken-vine”. The new vines had American pest-resistant roots and European grapes.

 

It took more than a century before the Australian wine industry regained its reputation as a quality wine-producing nation. After the phylloxera disaster, Australian wine manufacturers primarily produced fortified, sweet wines with hardly an acclaim. However, thanks to new technologies, a booming economy, and a renewed social interest in wine, a shift occurred in the 1960s that turned the focus back to table wines and production surged from one million cases in 1960 to 85 million cases of table wine in 1999.

 

During the 1970s aromatic wines such as Rhine Rieslings and gewürztraminer Rieslings became popular. It was during this time that Australia developed the wine cask, also called the “bag-in-a-box” that made it more convenient to drink a small amount at a time. This simple Australian invention is now used all over the world.

 

 

When going on a Southern Highlands wine tours, one of the critical things that you will be told is that if you want to buy great wine, you have to listen to your taste buds, and not just look at the labels. One of the ways people use to know wine is by assessing the fruit’s character. If you find that the fruit notes in your red wine taste jammy, then it is most likely from a warm climate. If on the other hand, you notice that it tastes delicate, then it might be from a colder climate. The environment that the wine hails from affects the quality of the wine. So, what does it mean when on wine tours and are told that the vine has had a warm or cold year? Find that out below.

 

 

Weather Vs Climate.

 

 

Climate refers to the general conditions of a place over a long period, while weather refers to the temporary conditions in an area. For example, you might find that a place has a cool climate generally, but has days or weeks of hot weather. Wine grapes usually grow best in an environment that is not arid or too tropical.

 

 

How Climate Influences Wine.

 

 

Cool Conditions.

 

 

In cooler weather and climates, grapes usually have a hard time ripening and do not ripen as quickly as those in warmer climates. They, therefore, have lower natural sugars and higher acidity, which gives them a tart taste. Tart flavours include raspberry, green apple and cranberry, to name a few. Many people love this taste and find it refreshing, but others will find it sour. Since these grapes also have lower sugar levels as a result of the cool climate, the wines are drier, with lower alcohol and lighter body. For anyone that loves their wine light, dry and crisp, then wines from cool climates are the way to go. Examples of cool climate wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, to name a few.

 

 

The grape growers in colder climates, however, face a lot of challenges since the vines yield lower results and winter can even kill the vines. Frost events can also destroy them. Prolonged rain can also affect the grapes in these areas since the wet conditions water down the grape juice, making it a diluted.

 

 

Warm Conditions.

 

 

Grapes that are grown in warmer climate and weather tend to ripen more quickly. They also have lower acidity, and the sugar levels are higher, and their colour darker. The high levels of sugar increase the alcohol content making the wine more full-bodied. The darker fruit flavours that are in these wines include blueberries, blackberries, plums and they even have chocolate notes. It is crucial to note that high sugar levels in the grapes do not mean that the wines need to be sweet. You can ferment the grapes into dry wines, but it will have higher alcohol levels. If you prefer wines that are fuller, soft and are fruity, then wines that hail from warmer climates and vintages are the way to go for you. Examples of warm climate wines include Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

 

The growers in warm climates also have problems such as retaining the acidity in the grapes. The acidity dips as the sugar accumulates, and preserving the acidity is crucial to ensure that the wine keeps tasting fresh and not flabby. The vines in warmer climates also tend to have thicker skins which give them more tannin, which may require the wine to have many years of ageing.

 

 

When it comes to choosing wine, you will be informed during various wine tours that no climate is superior to the other. It all depends on the taste of the person; whether they prefer a delicate over a powerful one, or tart versus ripe. Both are different but are perfect, according to the occasion.

The way you choose to spend your holiday is key to whether it will be worth it at the end of the day or not. The whole purpose of a vacation is to get a breather from the monotony of daily routines. You don’t want to feel like you’ve wasted your money at the end of the trip. You should remember it’s all about enjoying the journey. The first step is selecting your travel destination after which you’ll have to decide whether to do it independently or via a group tour of some kind. So why should you consider taking a group tour for your next vacation?

 

 

Access To Hard To Reach Or Overcrowded Destinations

 

 

Being in a tour group will really make things convenient for you as you try to hit all the best spots within time and budget. There are places you wouldn’t be able to gain access to if you were travelling by yourself. Group tours are usually granted access to unusual, overcrowded and hard to reach places like Africa or the Vatican Museums, for example. If a site is too crowded, would-be solo visitors are turned away despite standing in line for hours. Tour groups have their own special entrances, and access time which means you’ll maximise on your sightseeing escapades. You’ll be taken to some of the hidden gems that are unheard of and introduced to locals you wouldn’t have otherwise met if travelling solo.

 

 

Tried And Tested Research

 

 

Most of these touring companies have been in business for a while now and know how to utilise the data they have accumulated to provide a worthy itinerary that will get your juices flowing. They have years of tried and tested methods that are assured of giving you an ultimate experience when it comes to soaking in the culture and scenic views. It would otherwise take you weeks of research to even put together a third of what a group tour can offer. The best tour companies have locals as the guides to give the authentic inside scoop of the place.

 

 

Cost

 

 

Group tours are usually given group discounts when it comes to activities and foodstuffs, a good example is a Creasy Bear Southern Highlands wine tour  You are much better positioned being in a group to get the most of economies of scale. The touring companies themselves offer cheaper packages for group tours allowing you to focus your resources on the trip. You’ll even have enough left to buy some souvenirs to remember your time.

 

 

Worry-Free Travel

 

 

Some travellers take the initiative of being the problem solvers in the group. They worry about necessary logistics like things to eat, where to go, and timing. This way, you can worry about what to wear and not where you’re going. More often, one member may have a recommendation that turns out to be an amazing experience. By being in a group, somebody else will be handling all the details making the trip a stress-free experience for you. You only need to show up at the departure point.

 

 

Learning Experiences

 

 

For most people, the whole reason for the vacation is to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. In tour groups, you’ll have several opportunities to learn new skills, discover different cultures, and study up on places you’ve always dreamt of going. Tour groups provide the platform for one to meet new people, share stories and experiences as you lament, laugh and digest with your tour mates giving you a different perspective of life. Who knows, you can even forge new lifelong friendships along the way.

 

 

From outside looking in, one may think that a group tour is nothing more than a traveller on training wheels, but that is so wrong. Tour groups have so much to offer, which is why you should consider enrolling in one when visiting somewhere new. So from the aforementioned reasons, people should really give travelling with a tour group a second thought.

 

southern highlands wine tour group

How Weather Affects Your Tasting Experience During Wine Tours

 

The impact of the weather and the climate is not as completely straightforward as simply nice summer evenings along with anticipated bumper vintages waiting for visitors who partake in a  Shoalhaven wine tour. In fact, what the light-hearted questions on the radio regarding our favourite drink seem to ignore is that this will not improve the wine making industry in Australia. Furthermore, soon there will not be many places left in the world that will be able to claim it is premier wine growing country.

 

With erratic weather such as hurricanes, floods, unseasonal drought and extreme frost, these are the enemies of winemakers and they can severely affect wine production in the UK and around the world.

 

Winemakers Notice The Tiniest Changes In Weather

 

What is probably ignored by the occasional wine drinker is very obvious to an attuned winemaker. The smallest changes in the weather can change the taste of their wines. There is a list of past vintages that offers a very unique record of how climatic changes affected these wines. It is this record that has proven to be very troubling for winemakers around the world for many years.

 

Is It Simply Style And Quality?

 

Many would say that it is merely a preference in style and quality. Grapes accumulate higher sugar levels when they ferment faster than they are supposed to. They also have the potential of having higher alcohol levels as well.

 

As the vintages become hotter faster, some elements in the wine such as polyphenols and tannins may not be ready when fermentation occurs. These are the elements that give the wine flavour, and this leads to an even larger dilemma.

 

Winemakers can choose to harvest the grapes earlier and disregard complexity in favour of a suitable alcohol level, or make wines that have an alcoholic profile that is undrinkable at wine tours and reduce profits.

 

Record Breaking Weather Is Affecting Global Viability Of Vineyards

 

As each summer that comes and goes is hotter than the last, the viability of the global wine industry comes into question. From the different varieties of grapes available, to the decreasing water supplies, to fewer vineyards to the ability to create wines in similar styles and quality, every aspect of the industry is being affected by these climatic changes.

 

This has led many winemakers to take charge of the situation by experimenting with new varieties of grapes. The latest project is being conducted in Santa Cruz, California. It is the hope that new grapes can be bred that will be able to handle the current climate in California and similar climates in the UK. This means the grapes will have to be able to withstand being farmed without irrigation, and also be able to grow in the dry California heat.

 

These types of projects are very crucial in places like California in the US that has dealt with wildfires that have destroyed hundreds, if not thousands, of hectares across the state that were once flourishing vineyards.

 

The Shoalhaven and Berry’s climate and ideal soil is still conducive to making sparkling wines. However, as the South Coast’s climate continues to change, variations due to weather changes will become more noticeable in vintages. Australia has been getting hotter faster than the world average for the past 50 years, and most of these warmest years have occurred since 2002. The climate is also changing visitors’ wine tasting experiences during wine tours all along the South Coast of NSW.

 

 

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