Sommelier’s guide to the best wines for Father’s Day 

Close up of woman choosing bottle of wine at bottle shop

Tianna Nadalin

Posted August 29, 2022

Stuck for the perfect gift for dad this Father's Day? Wine is always the answer. Here’s how to pick the perfect bottle, plus a sommelier’s guide to five drops he’s sure to love. 

It’s that time of year again. The national day of dadmiration is almost upon us and, like always, there is no gift money can buy that will adequately demonstrate how much our old men mean to us... At least, that’s what we tell ourselves at 9am on the first Sunday of September when we invariably end up pacing the aisles of the local liquor store because we had no idea what to get him.

If, like us, you decant (see what we did there) think of the ideal gift for the dad who has everything – wine is always the answer. Whether he’s a vinthusiast, French wine snob, occasional vine adventurer or just plain fussy, we caught up with RACV City Club sommelier Christian Maier to help you pick a bottle that’s sure to knock his socks off.

What does Dad like to drink?

This might seem obvious, but when it comes to buying wine, past bottle behaviour is a pretty good indicator of future sip preferences. That doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with new or alternative options. RACV City Club sommelier and resident wine expert Christian Maier says if you want to buy him a bottle that's not his usual go-to grape, the key is to choose something that is similar in style.

“There are two easy ways you can approach it,” Christian says. “You can get him a different grape variety from the same region, or you could get him the same grape variety from a different region.”

If your dad loves big, bold, Barossa shiraz, for example, he might like to try one from Heathcote, in Victoria’s north.

“This region is renowned for producing rich, full-bodied shiraz that is spicier and more savoury than its South Australian counterpart, but still has plenty of kick to it,” Christian says. “Or if you want to stick with the Barossa – you could go for something that is similar in style to shiraz, but different enough to pique his interest, such as a grenache or tempranillo. These still offer plenty of juicy fruit, but they also have enough body and spice to appeal to his bold side.”   

If he likes reds, shiraz, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon are generally safe bets. Photo: Getty.

When do you want to drink it?

The next logical question to ask is whether you want to gift him a drink-now type of wine or something that could benefit from a little lie down. “Some wines are better than others for ageing,” Christian says. You want to look for wines that have good structure and complexity – but that also have enough freshness and fruitiness to hold up over time. If he likes his reds – shiraz, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon that have seen some time in oak are generally a safe bet or, if he’s more of a white drinker, chardonnay, semillon and riesling are fine choices.

And if you feel like splurging – quality classics like Italian Barolo (made from the nebbiolo grape), Rutherglen muscat, French Bordeaux (cabernet merlot blends) or Rioja from Spain (tempranillo) have excellent ageing potential.

What do you want to drink it with?

If you really want to impress your dad, matching a wine to his favourite meal is a surefire way to do it. Not only are you showing him that you’ve given the wine some thought, you’re also giving him an excuse to eat his favourite food; that’s check mate in our books. But when it comes to food and wine pairing, the old white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat rule is a little passé. These days, it’s all about what grows together goes together.  

“If he loves Italian food, look for an Italian wine or grape variety,” Christian recommends. “For example, Chianti, from Tuscany, is delicious with red-based pasta or cacciatore-style stews. If you’re wanting to keep it more local, go for a sangiovese (the grape used in Chianti) – the King Valley is producing some fantastic examples.”

If fish and chips is more his style, you can’t go past a classic New Zealand sauvignon blanc or, if he’s more of a paella lover, a grenache-based bottle from Spain (or a local producer) would go down a treat. Doing the whole pancake breakfast thing? It’s never too early to pop the bubbly.


Close up of person pouring glass of red wine at table

If you really want impress your dad, match the wine to his favourite meal. Photo: Getty.

Christian’s top wine picks for dad 

Michael Hall ‘Flaxman’s Valley’ Syrah 2018, RRP $50

Michael Hall makes a number of wines in the Barossa, but this shiraz is from neighbouring Eden Valley, from one of the highest shiraz vineyards in South Australia (more than 500m above sea level). It has been my go-to wine for a while and never disappoints. 

Evans & Tate Single Vineyard Malbec 2019, RRP $34.99

This purple-hued grape is one of the most important, not to mention prestigious, varieties in Argentina, but is climbing the popularity chart in Australia having found its best expression in Western Australia's Margaret River region. 2019 was a great vintage for malbec in Margaret River, with a long, cool growing season delivering ripe fruit, supple tannins and intense flavours. Evans & Tate Single Vineyard Malbec 2019 is from a small block on the family-run vineyard and offers intense black fruit lingering on the savoury side with a frame of super fine, silky tannins.

Levantine Hill Syrah 2017, RRP $80

When it comes to shiraz, this Victorian beauty is trading elegance above power and spices and savouriness above fruit ripeness. Levantine Hill shiraz from the Yarra Valley is fresh, complex and so impressive it was named the Best red wine in Australia at the 2018 International Wine Challenge in London. Surely, 20 Masters of Wines must know what they are talking about!  

Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir 2019, RRP $58.99

Show your dad a softer side with a bottle of Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir from New Zealand’s emerging Central Otago wine region. It combines sensuous power and structure with elegance and intricacy to deliver a spicy, savoury start that slowly gives way to an explosion of fruit.  

Penfolds RWT  2014, RRP $195.99

When only the best will do, look no further than Penfolds RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz 2014. This stunning, powerful red - having achieved cult status among wine lovers and featuring on many of the most prominent wine lists across the country - is definitely a special occasion wine, bursting with sun-ripened fruit, toasted spices and silky tannins. A great addition to any wine cellar.

Tyrell's Stevens Semillon  2016, RRP $35.99

For a wine that is drinking beautifully now but also has the potential to keep for another 10-15 years, look no further than Hunter Valley semillon. Hunter Valley semillon is a hidden treasure on the Australian winescape. And Tyrell's Stevens Semillon 2016 is no exception. The lively drop displays plenty of youthful vibrance and fruit flavour but some subtle toasty, honey notes are starting to develop - a hint of what's to come if left to cellar for the next decade.


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