G’day guys. And no, that title is not a typo. We’ll address that in time. I join you today with a belated wine article, something I haven’t written about since December, when I hastily put together a battery of prewritten wine articles to upload by themselves while I was offline, traipsing round frosty New Zealand. And let me get this out in the open immediately, this article, like my previous articles about wines from the prestigious wine regions; Tuscany, Bordeaux, the Rhóne Valley, Rioja, or any of our domestic accredited wine areas, the Granite Belt, Coonawarra, Tasmania. This wine is not expected to be taken quite so seriously. Since, you probably presume that the purpose of this article is to write about a bottle of wine to create product awareness and aid the fellow wine and spirits enthusiast. My real purpose for writing this, in full honesty because I had low hopes for this bottle aging well and was taking up room in my wine cabinet. Room I would prefer to use for a wine better known for aging well, like a Stellenbosch, or a domestic label. This wine has very low, but open ended expectations. But what I do know, is a fine wine, typically is made from grapes. As opposed to say, ginger. I had never once heard of ginger wine until I had bought this bottle. Ginger beer, alcoholic and non, yes. But wine, no. And when I Googled this, in juxtaposition to the intended image of wine – high-class hotels, men and women in luxuriant formal attire, clinking their crystal cut glasses with their significant others. When I attempted to search “ginger wine”, the results were few and sparse. Clearly then, this is an abnormal wine.
I came to be in possession of this oddity, by attendance of last year’s Relish Wide Bay. My beloved hometown’s wine and food annual festival. A little like the Maryborough Pub Crawl. But with less punch-ups and public urination. This year the region really pushed the boat out to make this year enjoyable, pun intended, as they went to the effort of organizing river cruises to the Relish from Hervey Bay. Apparently one or two friends I’ve known had the pleasure of going on this. Clearly they enjoyed it, as they came from Maryborough, to get on the boat somewhere in Hervey Bay, to come back to Maryborough. It’s my assumption that food and wine were all part of the package with the river cruiser on the boat. I’d like to hear more about it, at least it’s name so I would not have to refer to it broadly as “the boat”, but unfortunately I could find nothing on it. In past or future tenses. Perhaps then the river cruises, while enjoyable for those who sailed aboard, to the Relish festival did not prove financially viable. Pity. While I didn’t have the pleasure of the river cruise, as I was no better off then than I am now, so I never entertained the thought of driving three quarters of an hour a town over for the sake of coming back. I did enjoy the many food stands and wine stands. People will probably know which I went to, as this was another fleeting attempt to begin my YouTube channel, they will know me as the sunburnt twenty-something year old with a Galaxy smartphone held outstretched.
There were many wine stands present at the Relish that year. All closeby labels. Making wines and liqueurs out of all manner of fruits and produce of the general area of southeastern Queensland. I tried and liked a lot of these. Regrettably, I had apparently gotten to the festival early when the majority of the attendees had yet to arrive, presumably residents of Hervey Bay arriving from the boat. So by the time I had been and seen the entirety of the festival in all the area closed off for the event and decided to go back for the wine I liked for my cabinet, or perhaps a YouTube tasting, as at this point I had yet to wrestle unsuccessfully with my hateful Hewlett-Packard and bin the idea in anger, the wine stands were mobbed by patrons. In the face of the hot sun, I instead decided to turn to some of the other stands where I had chances of being served before my skin reddened up and peeled off like a stuffed tomato. I just grabbed what seemed fine at the time, and called it a day.
And so we arrive here. A curious bottle of stilled ginger wine. Or at least that’s what it was sold to me as. What the man meant by the word “stilled” was unclear at the time. Though it became clear when I was handed the bottle. I don’t really hold this bottle in high regard already. The name of the label, I purchased this from, calls themselves Second To None. Not that bad, you probably think, names are hard to come up with. But it is literally branded and sold spelt “2nd 2 None”. And when I enquired with the man behind the counter, selling the ginger wine, as I possessed no reference at the time whether or not these abnormal wines became vintage “does ginger wine age well?” the man responded dismissively with “all wine ages well”. This gives you an idea of what first impression I’ve already been given by this bottle. Millennial spelling skills and customer advice as broad as a building aside, the bottle itself does not fill me with confidence as to the attention-to-detail of the liquor housed within. As most wine bottles, are closed with easily disposable aluminum caps, if not with corks. Resources that should be easily sourceable to any wine producer, as they are easily accessible to home brew wine makers. Had I a substantial garden and accommodations for whatever species of grapevine that could tolerate the harsh Queensland climate, I’d have plenty lying about myself. This, by some bizarre manner of decision possesses nothing of the sort. And is capped with a crown cap, akin to a beer bottle. I’ve accepted, that while this is a sparkling wine, the use of a crown cork is still off-putting and ununderstood. I may not drink sparkling wine deliberately unless offered by others, but I’ve been to more than enough bottle shops to know that a sparkling wine has no different a cap than a humble domestic Merlot. That fact that sparkling drinks possess these crown caps is not valid. Crown caps like these, are not made of aluminum, a non-ferrous metal, insusceptible to rust that does not interfere with an aging wine. Crown caps, are made of steel. You needn’t be a fan of classic cars or fishing to know that steel and water, or any liquid rich of oxygen for that matter, don’t mix. Unsuited for aging. So, like I said, like a young stag with twisted antlers, I’m culling this individual from the herd for the collective good, and removing this short-term wine from my cabinet for space for higher-quality long-term bottles.
I hadn’t actually seen the bottle in the flesh for over six months, so when I took it out of the cabinet to photograph it like I always do, it said on the bottle it was to be served at one degrees Centigrade. So I decided to give this oddball the benefit of the doubt and refrigerated it up until the point I drank it. I uncap the bottle, little can be made if the nose prior to pouring beyond the thick chilled veil of air. In the glass the wine smells of nothing more or less than a ginger beer, frothy and light. In the glass, the wine looks like a darker Champagne in appearance. The taste is savory and reminiscent of ginger beer as well. Sweet and raspy, as you’d expect from ginger.
In summary: This wine is what it is. I can’t remember exactly what I paid for this wine, but I can’t imagine I paid the earth for it. So I can hardly condemn it. There’s no reason why you couldn’t buy this and simply have a drink with friends. But for what I wanted, I turn elsewhere. For wine fermented from ginger, it delivers. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. It is what it is. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to search the internet for something for the cabinet.