Exploring Australia through its wines, one delicious sip at a time

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We at GayCities were thrilled to attend Far From Ordinary, an interactive wine sampling event in NYC, which introduced oenophiles and novices alike to wines from the country Down Under.  There were sips, swirls, and sniffs of the delicious drink, as well as installations that inspired the sights and aromas of the Australian wine country. It was all quite the educational experience. Our extent of knowledge of Australian wine was previously limited to the bottles of Yellow Tail that are sold at Target for $5.99. Although that Yellow Tail wine is good stuff.

We were blithely unaware of the fact that Australia is one of the great wine producers of today, with viniculture regions that rival France and California. Old-vine wineries have been growing some tasty grapes for over 150 years, and the famous red wine Shiraz is an exclusively Australian variety. (It is the exact same grape as Syrah, but in Australia, they claim their own name because of the way it is grown. Or at least that’s what the Shiraz people say.)

PHOTOS: Meet the sexy, happy-go-lucky guys of sunny Perth, Australia

Northern Hemisphere residents are facing the cold, harsh reality of  oncoming winter, while Australia is set to welcome the sunny days of their summer. So we are dreaming of taking a trip. Wouldn’t it be fun to see a kangaroo?

Australian wine is available for sale in North America and Europe, but let’s explore Australian wine country itself, and imagine walking among the vines while enjoying the beautiful views. And of course we’d have some drinks, because these wineries have tasting rooms—let’s start with the wines that we sampled at the party, which we will discuss by region:

South Australia

South Australia is similar to Northern California, with rolling green hills dotted with small towns and family-owned wineries. The region supports all sorts of grapevines—the most famous grape here is Shiraz, but we will stop by the gorgeous Yalumba Family Winemakers for some of their grenache, made with grapes that thrive in the hot, dry conditions of the famous Barossa Valley. Yalumba’s grenache is a big wine, with hints of berries and a peppery kick.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Do you prefer a lighter wine? Let’s go a little further inland to the Clare Valley region, famous for producing world-class riesling, crisp and a bit sweet. We’ll visit Jim Barry, which is a gorgeous place.

 
 
 
 
 
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New South Wales

A short drive out of the exciting city of Sydney is Hunter Valley, with historic wineries like Tyrrell’s Wines. Try the semillon, a white variety that isn’t well-known in the U.S. but is otherwise popular around the world. Semillon has lots of flavor, and it is a bit dry, making it a good wine to pair with a big meal. Go for an older vintage, because these wines are better with age.

Since Tyrrell’s has been in business since the 1800’s, they keep a few fun traditions alive, including some old-fashioned grape stomping. Maybe if you’re lucky, you can catch the guys at the end of the season with some juicy feet:

 
 
 
 
 
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Victoria

We love any excuse to visit Melbourne! This cultural hub in the state of Victoria is famous for its world-class food scene, and just an hour out of the city center is the Yarra Valley. Shall we pay a visit to Innocent Bystander? They produce a delicious moscato, a sweet wine, which they pour from taps like beer, or when served frozen it is perfect to sip on a hot Australian summer day.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Related: Midsumma is Melbourne’s arts and culture carnival

Western Australia

Far across the outback on the western coast of Australia, near the business hub of Perth, Margaret River is not on the international travel radar—yet. Margaret River produces some of the country’s best cabernet sauvignons, as well as a delicious chardonnay from Vasse Felix, which is aged “unoaked” to bring forth the grape’s natural bouquet. It is crisp and delicious. Margaret River is also has stunning beaches, where even the kangaroos enjoy the views:

 
 
 
 
 
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