Travel is about the exploration of the new, and wine is a large part of the journey. Few other products capture a moment in time the way wine does. The cold winter; a devastating bushfire; the changing of the guard of the winemakers.Drinking a wine made in the area you are in gives you another window into the soul of the place.
But I feel that so many of us are trapped on familiar trails; the world of what we recognise. How many times do your eyes scan a wine list, looking for the familiar, the safe and the known?
I force myself to look for the local. The wine that tells the story of the place I am in, either by its taste, or its history. Which invariably means the unfamiliar, the unsafe and the unknown.
Of course, I worry about getting a dud bottle, not liking the wine and wasting my money. With the tasting that I do, I am well aware of the enormous spectrum of quality that exists in the market. So, taking a leap of faith can be as hard as for me as anyone else.
However, the positive vinous experiences I have far outweigh the negative. In fact, when I challenge my memory to recall the poor experiences, there are a scant few.
I must confess that I do like to take some direction. No one knows the local wines like the locals themselves. So, when I am in a new place, I quiz the waiter on their pick of the local wine, what they love, and what their customers come back for. Rarely have I been disappointed using this strategy.
Drinking a wine made in the area you are in gives you another window into the soul of the place. It can tell you about the geography, the climate, the fashion of the time. The narrative of the label can inform you about the history of the land and its people.
So, the next time you find yourself on unfamiliar turf, don’t scan the wine list for the wines you know. Take a punt on something new, from the region which you are in. Wine has the capacity to tell a great story. Don’t limit your experience by listening to the same voices.