I was recently catching up on some of the wine blogs I follow, and I noticed fellow blogger, Carpe Travel, had the following great post up From A To Z: Top Wine Festivals In Every State Not To Miss and I thought it would be awesome to have an Australian version. Continue reading
Yep you read the title of this blog post correctly, I was on a mission to boycott the Taste of Perth 2014 on the weekend and I thoroughly succeeded! To top it off I woke up headache free the following day – score!
It’s the first year the famous Taste festival has rocked up and knocked on Perth’s door. It’s a food and wine event which showcases some of the state’s best and tastiest food and drink options. And I hate to say it but it had bad press from as soon as the gates opened.
After reading through reviews and comments on social media about the festival I really wasn’t that excited about heading along. The majority of the reviews said that it was overpriced, small portions and long lines. Seeing as the sessions only went for about 4 hours, you don’t really want to be waiting around all day/night for one tiny expensive dish now do you.
Tickets into the festival were $38 on the door which is fairly pricey since this only gets you into the festival! There were a few exhibitors where you can try small samples of free wine/drink and food tastings but nothing major.
The bit which really rips at your wallets is that the festival has its own currency called ‘Crowns’. I like this idea to the point that you don’t have to worry about fluffing around with cash or your eftpos card however you cannot redeem your left over money at the end, so it makes me wonder how much profit they made out of everyone simply not being able to use exactly the amount on their cards. Thank-fully they only got $1 out of me!
So you ask, how exactly did I boycott Taste of Perth? Well my friends, I had all the intentions to dine on some of the most scrumptious dishes from the fanciest restaurants in the city however when I coupled the lines together with the size of the plates and spend required I thought bugger that. Particularly when the cocktail bar or craft brewery stand next door had no line and a standard size drink was a standard price of around $8.
Yep that’s right, Mr. Spittoon and I spent our 5:30pm-9:30pm session drinking our way around the festival and it was AWESOME! We got bang for our buck, never had to wait around and we were pretty merry by the end of it! So what did we taste you ask??
- First up we stopped in at the Piper Heidsieck Champagne Bar, and grabbed a glass of their 2006 vintage brut for $24 a pop. Such a shame to be served up in a plastic glass, however it wasn’t spoiled for me as the gorgeous bar and the delicious Champas I was enjoying by their outside heater warmed me up nicely. $24 is a restaurant wine list price, so nothing surprising there however a wee discount would have been nice seeing as we paid to get into the festival.
- Next was the Grape & Grain stand, after seeing the list of master classes we immediately signed up for the first one at 6pm which was the ‘Wild Chardonnay’ tasting with Evoi Wines, Nigel Ludlow. The tasting was about 30 minutes long and we got to try 4 wines and learn all about the effects of wild ferments in Chardonnay. For $6 a person, it was a fantastic deal and it was definitely the highlight of my night. Keep tuned for a more in-depth blog post to come on Evoi Wines and my tasting notes.
- Since my wine cravings were happily satisfied we then moved onto the Beer Hall to keep Mr. Spittoon in good spirits. There were no lines, we didn’t struggle to find seats, it was a super pleasant area to be in as we watched all the crowds outside.
- We started with a beer each from Fremantle’s iconic Sail and Anchor Brewery. Mr. Spittoon really enjoyed the red lager and my Cat’s Shank Kölsch was refreshing and light, much like a lager. Plus they were selling Sail & Anchor t-shirts for only $2 – thank-you!
- After this we moved onto James Squire, also in the beer hall where we had a pint of the Orchard Crush apple cider and one of the pear cider. I love these ciders, more tart than sweet which is right up my alley!
- Next up was Gage Roads Brewing which neither of us had heard of before. They had 3 IPA’s on tap and a cider. We weren’t sure what to go for, so the friendly staff gave us a wee taste of each which was lovely. In the end Mr. Spittoon’s choice was the Sleeping Giant Indian Pale Ale and I went for the Pomme Pomme sparkling apple cider. Not as nice as the JS one’s but pretty easy to drink!
- When we were finally able to pull ourselves away from the serene ambiance of the beer hall we got back out among the crowds. It was tempting to have a brew at the Chevy truck with kegs on the back put on by Feral Brewery, however we are fairly familiar with their brews so decided to find one we hadn’t been to.
- Next up was Trumer Pils & Bridgeport Ales who even though having a price list for tastings gave us a couple free. Full glasses started from $6 – bargain! Being a big Pilsner fan, a stop here was a no brainer for me!
- This is when we came across Fremantle’s The Monk Brewery. The staff were also very cool at this one and they let us have a free taste before purchasing. I opted for the lovely smooth pale ale and Mr. Spittoon went for the Chief, I think his decision was made solely on the alcohol percentage which sat at 6.3%!
- After chilling out with our beers while listening to the live music put on by Virgin Mobile we decided to head to where the party was at and that was the custom-built Beautifully Swedish Rekorderlig Star Cider Bar as I had already been eyeing up the new Orange-Ginger Cider on offer when we first came in the door. I liked it!! I struggle with some of the Rekordelig ciders because I find them too sweet however this one was right up my alley plus they were giving out free badges, I do love a freebie or two! It was a great place to end the night and thanks to the lovely Di from Travelletto I knew that alcohol sales closed 30 minutes before the end of the session.
So when it hit 9pm and alcohol sales had closed, there was no point us two staying any longer, so we headed home. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and considering we got our tickets on a special deal (2 tickets for $50) I feel we did pretty well for ourselves. My boycott was an absolute success, so much so that I’m looking forward to doing it again for Taste of Perth 2015!
For further details check out the Taste of Perth website.
Valley & Vines is a boutique wine festival in the Swan Valley – or as I like to think of it the sophisticated Swan Valley bar crawl! This is the 2nd year the festival will be taking place and it’s promised to be bigger and better than 2013!
The festival runs on Saturday the 5th of April 2014 and promises to be a day filled with plenty of Swan Valley delights to tickle your taste buds. Unlike an organised wine tour where you have to go to certain venues, your Valley & Vines ticket lets you pick the itinerary! You’ll get to select 3 Swan Valley wineries or a brewery to spend a 1.5 hour session at, with a 30 minute break in between for travel. Each venue will of course have their delightful drinks on offer, special food prices and live entertainment.
You can either get a group together and organise a bus for the day, jump onboard one of the organised Valley & Vines buses (pick-up locations include: South Perth, Stirling or Guildford) or lure a sober driver to join you for the day with seductive promises of wealth or treats to come their way.
Tickets cost $30 per person and include; entry into 3 sessions (see the participating venues below), a branded wine glass and branded Valley & Vines lanyard, a copy of the itinerary, a glass of wine and free live entertainment! Water will be given out at each venue, free of charge to keep you hydrated and ready to take on the next venue. I thought this was absolutely fantastic last year, as it ended up being quite a scorcher despite the forecast! Read my Valley & Vines 2013 post here.
The 4 participating Swan Valley hotspot’s this year are:
- Duckstein Brewery – A special for festival goers on the day is: traditional German sausages served in a roll with sauerkraut, caramelised onions and German mustard. Choice of traditional bratwurst, smoked cheese kransky, weisswurst or hot chilli debreziner. All $12 each!
- Carilley Estate – From oysters to platters to sweet treats you’ll be spoilt for choice. Menu items starting from $9! Click the link below for more details.
- Jarrah Ridge Wines – Meat platters with 16 pieces of meat on from $8 and cheese platters from $15!
- Ugly Duckling Wines – You can pick up one of their totally divine gourmet pies (read my post here) for only $9 on the day alongside various other foodie specials, click the link below to check them out.
Check out all the Valley & Vines 2014 food & drink specials here.
For more information please check out the Valley & Vines website, Facebook page or follow them on Twitter. Tickets will not be available at the gate, so please make sure you buy them beforehand – click here to purchase Valley & Vines 2014 tickets now!
Being a seasoned wine festival goer I have picked up on some handy tips and tricks along the way to make sure a day out at a wine festival is fantastic (and that I can still stand at the end of it!). Here’s my guide to surviving and wine festival:
- Water! It goes without saying really. But if you’re drinking alcohol then you MUST drink water otherwise you won’t know your mouth from your lovely white shirt which is now covered in red wine (not a good look!). All good festivals will have water stations however I do normally take a bottle with me to refill when needed.
- Eat! Again another relatively common-sense essential. Eat a nice big filling meal before the event and make sure you graze throughout the day as it’ll help soak up all that delicious wine nectar!
- Dress for comfort! Comfy shoes are a must as you will spend a lot of time on your feet. If it is an outside festival in summer make sure you have the essential sun protectors; hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Don’t bank on there being shade everywhere.
- Wine glass neck holder! You’ll never forget your glass again and you’ll be able to free your hands to instagram, tweet, facebook, take photos or whatever floats your boat.
- Utilise the “Notes” function and camera on your phone! If you like a wine, write it down! I hate those stories about trying the most amazing wine ever, and then they can’t remember what exactly that wine was!
- A designated driver or plan to take public transport! This is essential, drink driving is in no way cool. Actually it makes you a complete ******. Entice someone to be a sober driver, take public transport or a taxi – it’s that easy.
- Have a plan of attack! I always have a list of my ‘must-visits’ which I go to first and then proceed to visit the others. I also double check timings of demonstrations and seminars beforehand so I know where to be at what time.
- Spit! It’s not rude, trust me – nor will the exhibitors be offended if you spit or throw out some of your wine. The tastings may seem small, but they do add up much quicker than you realise. I am not saying spit everything, find a happy balance and try match all wine consumed with the amount of water you consume – or even better drink more water!
- Be inquisitive! If you want to learn about wine in general or about a particular exhibitors range, just ask. Wine should not be looked at as a snobby topic, it’s fun and by goodness it is truly enjoyable. I have asked many questions in my time and that’s possibly one of the reasons my wine knowledge is just growing and growing!
- And my all-time can’t live without’ essential – a pull along bag or someone with strong arms. This is where I have the lovely Mr. Spittoon – without him I wouldn’t nearly be able to spoil myself (and him!) with so many goodies to take home.
Hopefully the above list will be a good start in preparing you for an amazing day of drinking and eating (uhhh.. it’s the good life!). If you are keen to follow my wine festival experience make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest updates. Cheers everyone! If you live in Western Australia, there are plenty of fab wine festivals to attend, here’s a taste: