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Pretend you’re a wine expert with this expert advice

In the first in our series of mastering the magic of wine, we talk with expert sommelier and wine educator, Joe Turnaturi.

Pretend you’re a wine expert with this expert advice

This isn't Joe. Joe's cooler than this guy.

Many Australians love a good glass of wine. But for those of us who might struggle to tell the difference between a red and a white, reading a restaurant wine list or browsing through the bottle-o can be quite daunting. So we called in an expert to help.

Joe Turnaturi has worked as a sommelier – among other hospitality roles – for more than 20 years in hatted restaurants. Joe has a strong focus on wine education, having completed professional sommelier and wine guild programs. Joe is also a teacher at the TAFE NSW Sydney Wine Academy.

We asked Joe some tricky wine questions, so you can tell those snobs to go put a cork in it!

Q: Joe, how do you pick a wine from a wine list when you don’t know any of the wines?!
A: Just ask to speak to the sommelier and make her or him earn his money. Tell them what you like and what's your budget. Ask if there is a bottle open from which you can have a taste.

The 'second cheapest wine on list' rule is a cop out and you'll probably be ordering the wine with the biggest mark up.

Q: How can we amaze our friends by telling an Australian from a European wine?
A: An Australian wine will be fruity and probably smell like jam or even dried fruit. In red wines, confectionary aromas such as red frogs or red jewel lollies can be present. The European wines will have a more ‘earthy’, savoury aroma.

On the palate, the Australian wines will usually be richer with ripe tannins and, with whites, a more fruity profile. European wines tend to show acidity in whites and firmer tannins in reds.

Q: Ice wine v botrytis? What’s the difference and who wins in the battle of sweet wines?
A: Ice wine wins every time as long as it's created in the vineyard. When the grapes are frozen on the vine and water removed you get a pure varietal expression of the wine and not muddled by the flavours that botrytis (a fungus that is used to concentrate flavours of grapes) adds to the wine.

Ice wine made in the winery using freezing techniques is a poor imitation.

The TAFE NSW Sydney Wine Academy offers a wide range of courses for beginners through to aspiring sommeliers seeking specialised industry qualifications. So when you’re ready to get your skills up, enrol in a course and raise a glass to new beginnings!

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