Sommelier’s guide to the best wines for Father’s Day
Give your dad something to wine about this Father’s Day.
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 man means 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 you can’t 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.
How to pick the perfect bottle of wine for dad
What does he 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 him to try something out of his vine comfort zone, 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 variety from the same region, or you could get him the same 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.”
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 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 and riesling. And if you feel like splurging – classics like barolo from Italy (made from the nebbiolo grape) and bordeaux from France (cabernet merlot blends) 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. 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 passè. 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 pastas (hello, spaghetti bolognese) 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 would go down a treat (for a local producer – there is lots of good stuff coming out of McLaren Vale). Doing the whole pancake breakfast thing? It’s never too early to pop the bubbly.