Wine Master Michael Palij chats with the Sunday Telegraph about what really makes wine great
Wine master Michael Palij. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
THE Australian wine industry could go sour if winemakers don’t tweak their winning recipe.
Master of Wine Michael Palij, who sampled 10,000 wines the year he qualified for the wine world’s top title, has drunk everything from Aussie goon to a bottle of French Domaine de la Romanée-Conti worth $17,000 a bottle.
According to the plonk professional, Australian winemakers are too focused on “fitting the consumer taste profile and easy to understand labelling” and must return to championing the geographical advantages of specific regions such as the Hunter Valley.
Wine master Michael Palij flew from the UK to Sydney to talk to students at the hospitality TAFE in Ryde about wines. Picture: Sam RuttynSource:News Corp Australia
The global authority on Italian wine was at The Sydney Wine Academy this week, an offshoot of TAFE NSW, teaching some of the country’s most accomplished sommeliers and buyers.
Proving he’s no English toff, the Oxford-based expert complimented Australian cask wine’s “accessible flavour profile” but said anyone who appreciates a fine drop would describe it as sickly sweet and one dimensional.
The wines shirked giving tips on how to find a good value bottle, suggesting punters put their faith in the local bottlo.
“Develop your own set of favourite wines and make sure you can tell your bottle store clerk why you them so they can make suggestions based of your personal preferences” he said.
AN EXPERT’S GUIDE TO PICKING A WINE WANKER
PUT A CORK IN IT
There’s no point in smelling the cork once it’s off, it’s pointless. Picture: iStockSource:istock
WANNABE wine connoisseurs have a useless habit of sniffing the cork after they open a bottle, as if it could somehow reveal secrets of the vintage.
Michael Palij (middle) talks to students Raphaella Krieling (left) and Allan Chiha about wine. Picture: Sam RuttynSource:News Corp Australia
According to the Master of Wine, corks smell distinctly of cork and are an effective tool to keep wine in a bottle — that’s it.
“You won’t be eating the cork, so why would you smell it?,” Mr Palij said.
“It’s a ritual with no basis in fact.”
MORE GLASS THAN CLASS
SPECIFIC stemware for chablis as opposed to chardonnay is a sure sign someone has no idea what they’re doing.
“A good glass is better than a plastic tumbler but there’s no science to support grape variety specific glasses,” Mr Palij said.
“I’ve known collectors with a couple hundred wine glasses they roll out for different varieties, which is a sure sign of a wanker.”
Anyone who’s shelled out for the Riedel Swirl collection with its “ripple shape” and “subtle grooves that help guide the wine around and around the vessel” truly has all the gear and no idea.
BOGUS buffs who swirl and twirl their glass before have a big whiff have missed the point.
Swirling the glass oxygenates wine and opens up “shy “ drops, revealing hidden scents and flavours.
But the more fragile fragrances need to be savoured before they’re sent flying.
“You definitely want to smell before you swirl because it changes the wine,” Mr Palij said.
People who swirl their wine have missed the point, Michael Palij says. Picture: Sam RuttynSource:News Corp Australia
SMELL A RAT
TO become a Master of Wine Michael Palij had to taste 36 wines from all over the globe and accurately describe the variety of grape, when it was made, by whom and where.
So he is qualified to say wine smells like grapes — not grass, gooseberry or wet asphalt.
“There’s no leather in wine, so anyone who sticks their nose in a glass and describes it as leathery is quite possibly a wanker,” Mr Palij said.
“The only thing you can reliably say of any wine is it smells of grapes.”
HOW TO DRINK WINE LIKE A REAL MASTER
1. Tip the glass on a 45-degree angle and check the colour against a white background. A tablecloth is perfect for the job.
2. Smell the wine, picking up all the delicate scents. Then swirl the wine to liven it up and take another whiff.
3. Take a big enough sip to coat the entire inside of the mouth, touching on tastebuds on different parts of the tongue.
Originally published as Our guide to spotting a wine snob
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