From Travel Libido
The National Wine
Very few things on Earth can distract from my love of travel, but good wine is a good reason to cheat. And cheat I must dooccasionallyjust to keep up with the newest generation of whipper-snappers who, I swear, have been weaned on Chardonnay. In my day, Mad Dog 20/20 was as exotic as Shiraz or Semillon.
Even better, this tourist attraction weds wine and travel, a marriage made in Adelaide, South Australia for here, the Wine Centre is a crash course in winemaking, wine tasting and just about everything that comes up grapes.
Feel Like Kid With Energized Bunnies
Low-tech though I am, in this hallowed hall of grapes I feel like a kid with energized bunnies. One interactive display focuses on the art of barrel making, another on diseases and pests. Holograms of some of Australia's leading winemakers talk about grape picking or how the seasonal changes from year to year affect each harvest. The talking heads even include chefs and wine critics.
After the Wine Centre's sommelier sets four glasses atop paper coasters, I'm encouraged to swirl, sniff, sip and if I must, use the aroma pads to help identify whether I'm drinking Merlot or Shiraz, Chardonnay or Riesling.
I may publicly declare each wine's grape; the sommelier will verify which is which. Or I can turn the coaster over to confirm what I'm drinking, even if not what I'm thinking. This is painless learning by doing.
It complements the wine-and-dine-out consciousness of Adelaide, a foody city with more than 700 "slow food" establishments. It supports the importance of the winemaking industry by offering private wine tasting and catered dinners for small or large groups. It offers in-depth education with six-week courses, such as "Understanding Wine," that also may be condensed into a weekend of 14 hours' lessons for those who have less time to explore Adelaide and the nearby wine valleys, where 70 percent of Australia's wine is produced.
And whether you're a seasoned wine enthusiast, or a complete novice, you may discover that, though worlds apart, Greece and Australia have some things in common.
National Wine Centre of Australia is at the corner of Botanic & Hackney Roads in Adelaide, South Australia: telephone 618 8303 3355 or www.wineaustralia.com.au.
Barbara Bowers is a frequent traveler and freelance photojournalist.
Copyright © 2006, Barbara Bowers
See Barbara's site at http://www.bbowers.com