Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Swirl Sniff Spit: Clare Valley wine tasting

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the first Swirl Sniff Spit event of 2013. 

Swirl Sniff Spit is a monthly wine-appreciation evening put together by a group of Brisbane wine lovers who know that a pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled. These monthly themed events seem to be rapidly becoming a must-do on the Brisbane wine calendar, with places booking out within minutes.
Assembled wine lovers at Era Bistro.

I have now been to a Chardonnay night, a McLaren Vale night and a Grampions Shiraz night. Last night it was Clare Valley, a part of the country I have not yet visited but whose wines I hugely enjoy. The host for the evening was Kate Giles, a Clare Valley wine maker who had some delicious drops in the line up. You can follow Kate on Twitter or on her blog.

Swirl Sniff Spit is a bit unique in being a twitter-based event. The general invitation to attend is issued on twitter one week before the event and all updates and RSVPs go through the same channel. The tasting is free of charge on the understanding that you live-tweet the event and tag the wine-makers, and order your dinner from Era Bistro, who kindly provide the space for the tastings free of charge.

 The evening's line up, complete with twitter tags and a map of the region we were 'exploring'.

Exploring the Clare Valley meant a lot of Riesling tasting and a real mixed bag of reds. What I would say it was an ideal tasting night. For my tastebuds at least.

Tastings are divided into 'brackets' for comparison between winemakers, vintages and varietals. By the end of the night my sheet is scribbled on and wine-stained with my notes and the suggestions of others. Seated next to Two Glass Taste, his first suggestion for the O'Leary Walker Riesling was 'lemon cheesecake'.

Bracket two: Watervale Rieslings. Delicious.
I greatly enjoyed the  full-mouth taste of the clos Claire Watervale 2012.

I have neither the palate nor the nose to give educated opinions on the wines I taste. I enjoy wine, I think it is one of life's great pleasures and going to events like these or being conducted through tastings at cellar doors are opportunities for me to learn a little more and discover something new. I think my tasting notes on the first two wines were 'I would happily drink either' but I do try to come up with a few more intelligent comments through the night.

 The evenings' selection.

Bracket three was a mixed bag of red varietals; a Sangiovese by Thomson Estate (our hostess) which might have been my red pick of the night, a Graciano by ArtWine (who are apparently ‘doing the weird stuff’) and a Sevenhill Inigo Barbera. I had never heard of either of these latter varietals and it was a real education to try them. I enjoyed both, the Graciano was 'Grenache-y' but I think I’d need to learn a bit more about the Inigo Barbera to form a solid opinion. If you've never heard of Inigo Barbera either, here is a little more information.  

Bracket three. A delicious start to the teeth-staining part of the evening.
Down the table; three wines and a lot of phones.
My much-needed charcuterie platter. I get it at every Swirl Sniff Spit event, it is the ideal accompaniment to almost any wine. 

Overall, it was a very enjoyable night. Our hostess was informative, friendly and entertaining. The company was excellent and I had the opportunity to meet a few Brisbane twitter identities I have been following for a while (hey there, Mel Kettle), as well as catching up with a couple of wine-and-twitter acquaintances.
I want to tell you not to bother with these events, because the more people who want to attend, the harder it will be for me to nab a spot. However, if you are a Brisbane-based wine lover is it really worth following @swirlsniffspit and getting yourself along to one of their tasting nights. Delicious wines, a bit of education and the chance to meet fellow wine enthusiasts is a great way to spend a Tuesday night.  

Thank you  once again to the team who organised the event and the wine makers who participated.



  1. Sounds like a great evening. I love the idea of the Twitter mentions but not so much the phones on the table, hmm...

  2. The first time I felt really rude, not talking to anyone around me because I was on my phone. But that's the reason you're there - to spread the word. So while normally I am a phones-off-the-table person, at these events it's all good.


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