Better wine please
Why is the quality of wine served at functions and major events so standard?
Australian wine drinkers are more sophisticated than ever, and the wine offering in our restaurants is the best it’s ever been.
I can go to the theatre in Australia and watch world-class performers and be served sub-standard wine as a pre-show drink.But the moment you want a glass of wine at a function, the theatre, or a major sporting event, the quality is downright average.
The quality of food and beer has certainly lifted, with stalls and food trucks selling the likes of poke bowls, fresh oysters, fancy sliders and boutique beer.
But when it comes to wine, there is normally just a generic sauvignon blanc, average shiraz or bland sparkling wine on offer.
I once found myself at the circus in Zurich. The wine on offer was Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé. So I sat watching clowns and jugglers while sipping fine Champagne.
However, I can go to the theatre in Australia and watch world-class performers and be served sub-standard wine as a pre-show drink.
How hard can it be to serve good wine? Or at least have an interesting wine on offer alongside the cheap, generic stuff? Or something different from fruity shiraz, sauvignon blanc or pinot gris?
You would think that with the current boom in dry, savoury rosé that it would sometimes get a look in? Not very often, from what I have seen.
When flying on Virgin Airways, I noticed that they don’t brand the wine on their menu. Nor do they list the variety on offer. The beers and the spirits are branded, but not the wine, which was just referred to as ‘Australian Wine’. This allows, no doubt, the airline the flexibility to change their wine offering regularly without reprinting their menu. But if I knew in advance that it was an older sauvignon blanc, I would have ordered something else.
At a major sporting event recently, I came across WIAG, which stands for Wine in a Glass. A novel concept of single-serve wine allowing wine drinkers the feeling of drinking wine from a glass. The vessel is in fact plastic, but it has good weight, so it feels more like glass than the flimsy wine cups usually used. Plus, it has a removable lid, protecting the contents from spillages. There are six wines in the range. I applaud the concept, but again, the offering at the venue was a fruity sauvignon blanc and shiraz. What about a premium selection?
I know there are complex issues involved. Companies often need to bid for contracts to have their wine served at big events.
Many arts organisations rely on sponsorship, and the companies that can provide this are usually the big players.
It must be said that there are some people doing it well, like the Capitol Theatre in Sydney where I recently sipped on a lovely savoury Hunter red.
But I feel that, in general, this is an area where wine is lagging behind beer and food. Of course, it would cost more to offer better wine, but I think there would be plenty of people happy to pay.