Wine Tasting: Ohau Wines

Ohau 2An hour and a half south of Whanganui lies the closest thing to a local winery: Ohau Wines, between Otaki and Levin. On a recent trip south to visit my sister in Wellington I decided to stop in. It was a cold, grey day, but the welcome at the small cellar door was warm and the marketing manager (whose name I regrettably forgot to ask) was passionate and knowledgeable.

I came to know of Ohau Wines when I discovered their Woven Stone range in a local supermarket, but I was amazed by the range of wines they had available – enough that I had to decline to taste many of them to ensure I could continue south safely and legally. Woven Stone (which is good wine) is their low-end, mass-produced supermarket range, and the winery has been doing some interesting things with their direct-sale-only wines. Continue reading “Wine Tasting: Ohau Wines”

Wine Tasting 101 (Part Five: Accessories)

Grape Harvest, by Dora Hitz C1910

Accessories! Whether it’s gadgets or handbags, we can never get enough of them, and the line between ‘need’ and ‘want’ is often blurred. The world of Oenophily is no exception, and a quick wander around the web will expose you to a vast array of things which you simply must have in order to make your wine-drinking life complete.

So, what do you really need? Based on what I have floating around my house, here’s a list of my Top 5 wine accessories. Continue reading “Wine Tasting 101 (Part Five: Accessories)”

Wine Tasting 101 (Part Four: Oenophilia!)

concise-world-atlas-of-wineOkay, so it’s actually ‘oenophily’ (‘loving wine’), but I like my version better. Two years after I started The Culture Project, people seem to believe three things about me:

  1. I know a lot about wine.
  2. I’ve read a lot of books, listened to a lot of classical music, and generally know a lot of stuff.
  3. I know what I’m talking about.

Here’s the thing: I don’t, I haven’t, and much of the time the things I say represent the sum total of all my knowledge on that particular subject. Oh, and I absolutely could not write this blog without Google and Wikipedia. So, how does one go from actually knowing nothing about wine to giving the appearance of knowing something about it? Continue reading “Wine Tasting 101 (Part Four: Oenophilia!)”

Wine Tasting 101 (Part Three: The Five Basic Characteristics of Wine)

how-to-taste-wine-step-3.jpgApart from confirming whether the aromas you identified at Stage Two of your wine tasting are reflected in the flavour, there are five basic elements to look for once you actually take that first mouthful of wine: the sweetness, the acidity, the tannins, the alcohol, and the body.

It can be helpful to hold that first sip of wine in your mouth before you swallow, moving it around and letting it coat your entire tongue. This doesn’t have to be an ostentatious, somewhat gross swishing – it isn’t mouthwash – but can be done subtly and discreetly without undue display. Continue reading “Wine Tasting 101 (Part Three: The Five Basic Characteristics of Wine)”

Wine Tasting 101 (Part Two: Name That Smell)

The second stage of wine tasting. (c) Wine Folly

In the first post in this series, I talked about the five stages of wine tasting. In this post I’m going to focus on Stage Two: Smell.

You may have noticed that regardless of their size many wine glasses share a common ‘tulip’ shape, being wider at the bottom and narrowing slightly at the top (they also have a stem, which I’ll hopefully remember to talk about in another post), and that they are much bigger than the 100mls which is a standard drink. This is quite deliberate: the extra space in the glass allows the wine to interact with the air, releasing the aroma, while the tapered shape then concentrates that aroma close to the drinker’s nose and mouth. So, what should you be smelling? Continue reading “Wine Tasting 101 (Part Two: Name That Smell)”

Wine Tasting 101 (Part One: The Stages of Wine-Tasting)

Let’s do it!

Some time back I said I’d write a post about wine-tasting, and then never got around to it. In this short series of short posts (I’m planning on keeping it as simple as possible) I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about how to taste wine. Today is Part One: The Stages of Wine-Tasting. Continue reading “Wine Tasting 101 (Part One: The Stages of Wine-Tasting)”

Summer Holidays #1: Brick Bay Winery


I was fortunate enough to be invited away on holiday over New Year’s this year, to stay with friends in Wellsford just north of Auckland. As well as offering the opportunity to catch up with people I hadn’t spent time with in far too long, the Auckland region offered a number of interesting activities, some of which are relevant to this blog. One of the first on my list was a visit to a winery, and on this trip I chose Brick Bay Winery in Matakana. Continue reading “Summer Holidays #1: Brick Bay Winery”

The Winery, Queenstown

A self-serve wine-tasting bar? It’s certainly an interesting concept, and when Becks and I happened to walk past The Winery in Queenstown over Easter I knew I had to check it out… just as soon as Lent was over.

Sauvignon Blanc dispenser at The Winery.

So on Easter Monday, the last day of our holiday, I wandered back and spent a pleasant hour trying it out. Continue reading “The Winery, Queenstown”

Visit to Gibbston Valley Winery, Central Otago

Please note that, because none of my photos turned out particularly well, none of the photos in this post are mine.

gibbston valley entrance

While it may have appeared from my cunningly pre-scheduled posts that I spent my Easter quietly at home pondering the profound mysteries of the crucifixion and resurrection and attending various Easter church services, the truth, for the first time in many years, was very different. In fact I was off gallivanting in and around New Zealand’s beautiful Queenstown. This came about due to a comic misunderstanding: way back in June my BFF sent me a text message which read ‘Want to go to Queenstown for easter next year.’ For some reason I interpreted this as meaning that she was planning a trip to Queenstown, possibly with her partner, and so replied ‘Nice! I’ve never been.’ And that is how I agreed, without really meaning to, to go away over Easter this year. Continue reading “Visit to Gibbston Valley Winery, Central Otago”

Visit to Ascension Wine Estate, Matakana

Ascension winery
Ascension Wine Estate in Matakana, New Zealand.

Situated in Matakana, just north of Auckland, Ascension Wine Estate specialises in boutique wines: unusual varietals and a rich aged port, about which more later. My best friend, Becks, lives in Auckland, and the fact that she personally doesn’t like wine didn’t prevent her from arranging a trip to Ascension when I visited her in October. Continue reading “Visit to Ascension Wine Estate, Matakana”