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Ask an expert when you are seeking a good drop – 07.11.14

Even if you are a bit crazy about wine like I am there are still times you need a bit of advice; there are so many wine choices available it is impossible to know what every wine tastes like so you need someone to help you make great wine choices.


I try and give you some guidance in this column by telling you about some of the wines I have tasted recently but the most important advice you can get is from the person selling you the wine, especially in a retail outlet. In Nelson we are lucky to have some really well informed and well trained staff to help you find a wine to suit your needs and tastes.


Ann Banks owns Casa del Vino on Hardy St, a wee gem of a store that we are lucky to have in Nelson because most boutique wine shops like this disappeared a long time ago. Ann has a wonderful range of wines you won’t find on the shelves of larger outlets and she tastes almost every wine she stocks so she can give you great advice.


The owners of Fresh Choice in Nelson and Richmond know how daunting it can be when you wander down the wine isle at the supermarket so they have put lots of time and energy into ensuring their wine and beer staff know about the product they are helping you buy.


The LK (Liquor King) stores have recently been upgraded around the country and part of that upgrade has been to put a bigger focus on their fine wine selections in each store. So they can help you make the best wine choices for your function, be it a dinner party for six, a wedding for 100 or a party for many more they have employed a sommelier in some stores, including Nelson.


A Sommelier is someone who is trained in all forms of beverage, not just wine, and can give you advice on the right drink to have at the right time or with a specific food.


The fine people from LK’s marketing group also sent me some wine samples with a few other goodies including a set of cheese knives and a tea towel from Corbans and a lovely sparkling wine chiller bag from Daniel Le Brun. I have opened and tasted the wines so I can’t give those away but I can give away the other goodies they sent me. If you would like to go in the draw to win them just email by the15th November and put “goodies draw” in the subject line with your name address and phone number in the body of the text. You never know, I might slip in another treat or two as well.


Another place you can get wine advice is the wide range of magazines available including Cuisine and Wine NZ. While Cuisine is dominated by food writing with some wine advice Wine NZ is a specialist wine magazine that has recently appointed Jo Burzynska as its editor. Jo has set about refreshing the magazine with fresh faces on the various tasting panels and more writers contributing content. I am picking this will become New Zealand’s go-to wine magazine.


Then there is the annual New World Wine Competition; I have decided to include this wine competition because it is run by a retailer and when the judging panel has allocated gold, silver and bronze medals they publish a little booklet telling you about the best wines. You know you can buy these wines with confidence because the quality has been independently assessed.

As we are getting closer to the summer holiday season it is time to start thinking about the wines you will be drinking with your Christmas dinner or to ring in the New Year so plan now by heading to your favourite liquor outlet and talking to the experts.


Here are a couple of wines I have tried recently but you will find many more at my new website

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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