Matt Skinner's wine tips: What to buy this summer.

This is a sponsored post by First Choice Liquor.

Welcome to my new desk.

The best part of any new job is finding out where you sit. Desks matter on so many levels, but not least of all because you’ll probably end up spending more time at your desk than just about anywhere else.

As desks go, mine is pretty special; a waist-high fifteen-foot-long bench complete with inset spittoons (fancy places to spit!) all finished in laboratory-grade white Laminex and saturated in artificial light.

Your cup of tea? Probably not. Yet to me – for the above-mentioned reasons and then some – it’s the best kind of desk I could imagine.

Tasting wine is a huge part of what I do.

In a good week I’ll spend anywhere up to fifteen hours standing at my “desk” pulling corks out of bottles, twisting off screw caps, sniffing, swirling, and slurping my way through the hundreds of weekly samples we receive at Coles Liquor HQ. Trust me when I tell you that it’s harder than it sounds!

On any given day I’ll taste upwards of 50 wines – these are grouped by variety or style, each is concealed in a bag eliminating any risk of label bias, and all are scored using the International 20 point scale; a possible 3 points are allocated for colour, 7 points for aroma, & 10 points for taste.

Matt’s latest book: Thirsty work.

Helping me do all of this is one of the most talented group of wine buyers in the country. It may not sound like fun, but it’s a process that ensures that only the highest quality wines make it through, and even then we’re talking 20% of what we taste.

The hardest part of all this is being consistent. And as great as it sounds, tasting 50-or-so wines in a sitting is both a physically and mentally taxing exercise and it’s imperative that you give the last wine you taste the same level of attention as the first.

And then there’s the physical effects; the sore gums, the wine stained teeth, and the tendency to fall asleep on public transport, and the desperate need for cold beer when it’s all said and done.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I realise I have a good job – a great job in fact – a great job made all the better by a pretty special desk.

Here are three great wines I’ve tried at it recently.



King Valley, Victoria


Dal Zotto have forged a solid reputation as producers some of Australia’s most quality-driven Italian Varietals. From their three Prosseco offerings, the entry level ‘Pucino’ oozes smells of lemon sherbet, green apple and pear, while the palate is clean, citrus-lead & balanced beautifully by a charge of tiny bubbles. A steal for around $20 a bottle.



Marlborough, New Zealand


Fresh as a daisy, this is Marlborough Sauvignon at its best. Expect a complex and layered nose of pea pod, green herb, grapefruit and mint, while in your mouth it delivers plenty of intense and mouth-filling fruit tropical fruit, before ending clean, crisp and dry. Grab it while you can.



Heathcote, Victoria

RRP $15

De Bortoli have a knack for turning out brilliant wines that well and truly over-deliver on price. The latest addition to the much loved Windy Peak range is the jaw dropping HEATHCOTE Shiraz 2012 – a cool, dark, and fragrant wine boasting a level of detail rarely seen at this price. A serous contender for bargain of the year.

Registered Mamamia readers who leave a comment on this post will go in the draw to receive a free copy of Matt Skinner’s latest book Thirsty Work, thanks to First Choice Liquor.

To purchase any of the wines mentioned above, you can find the nearest First Choice Liquor store to you here.

Matt Skinner is an author, writer, consultant, and educator well known to both local and international audiences for his refreshing take on wine. You can follow him on Twitter here, or visit his website

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