I became a wine writer in the 1970s by accident, and as a bit of relief from the pressures of partnership in a large Sydney law firm.

The most essential role is to educate people wishing to know more in an easy-to-understand fashion.

Unfortunately, tasting goes on throughout the year. It becomes more intense from December to the end of March. I balance objectivity and subjectivity through 40 years of experience as a wine judge, a winemaker and a wine writer.

How do I keep my palate accurate? By spitting out every wine during a tasting day.

I don’t agree for one moment that cheap wine can taste like great wine. My definition of a good bottle of wine is one of harmony, length and above all, balance.

You know, the most underrated grape variety around is the Sémillon, a golden-skinned grape used to make dry and sweet whites. 

The climate of Margaret River is unique – the temperature is kept very stable through the growing season by its giant air-conditioning system, the Indian Ocean. 

Sulphur dioxide (sulphites) has two functions. First, to kill any bacteria present in wine. Second, to prevent oxidation, as it acts as a preservative. The average amount of sulphur dioxide in an Australian wine is a tiny fraction of the amount used in a fresh fruit salad bar or sandwich shop.

I love the great wines of Burgundy. The whites made from chardonnay and reds from pinot noir.

Take two glasses of wine – one from the Old World, and another from the New World, France vs Australia for example. Ask the average Australian to pick a preference, and if they are both of a similar cost, there should be an overwhelming preference for the New World. 

If a particular wine gives you a hangover, it doesn’t mean it’s lousy. It simply means that you drank you much.

Don’t want a hangover? Take Vitamin B before drinking, and again when you get home. 

Nope, I don’t see any trends in winemaking that I find worrying. The future is still bright.

The quality of wine will only increase, for there are new ways of growing grapes and new pieces of equipment in wineries discovered. There is no question that a AUD20 bottle of wine in Australia today is infinitely better than the same bottle made 20 years ago.

If you want to learn more about Australian wines, come for the Margaret River Gourmet Escape this 18-20 November. You can find me together with Joe Czerwinski and Tyson Stelzer at the Cape Mentelle International Cabernet and Long Lunch, an elaborate blind tasting that will feature several of the world’s finest cabernet.

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