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Introducing - The Swig - Big REDS

Posted by Ben Hughes on


Let me introduce myself, I am the Swig. Brother of the more famous The Stig, you know the guy in the helmet on Top Gear. We travelled different roads; his of burnt rubber and aromas of hot oil and tarmac, mine one of wine stained teeth and aromas of blackberry and a life of wine and food matching. Welcome to my blog – The Swig Blog. This time…..BIG REDS.

They can be the best of wines, they can be the worst of wines; BIG REDS.

This style has been the key landmark on the Aussie winescape since, well forever, maybe not that long but quite a while! Dark, intense and so tannic that your eyes welled up and all four cheeks are sucked in with muscle spasms of delight, If you've ever had a particularly strong cup of tea then you'll know what tannin is, it is that furry feeling in your mouth combined with a chalky/dusty feeling, except in the case of wine it comes from the grape skin and seeds and not a perforated bag of English Breakfast; but I digress.

The Aussie Big Red starts with rich and intense fruit, the quality of which can only be achieved by treating the vines in such a way that, if they were kids, A Current Affair would be camped on your lawn and DOCS would be up rooting them.  In the wine world, hard pruning and reduced irrigation encourages the vines to put a lot of energy into the fruit.  They think they are going to die; so, all their energy goes into trying to reproduce, lots of grapes. This is very much the old adage of quality over quantity.  Conversely, an overindulged vine that wants for nothing will produce nothing of any significance but in high quantities, think, The Kardashians.

Once ripe they will be harvested at night, sent to the winery where the magic happens. They are crushed, the pulp, called Must, will spend days soaking with the skins, being plunged, kind of like me on the right here, stomp, stomp, stomp, the colour and tannins are extracted into the juice in a ritual perfected by the ancients. Nowadays, wineries use paddles to mix up the juice and skins or pump wine over the top.  

The juice is separated from the pulp, it may be blended; or not, and then put into one of the final pieces of the puzzle; oak barrels.  These barrels will impart different characteristics depending on whether the oak comes from France or America, each, like a parent, will impart its own personality onto the wine which will set it on the road to grapeness, I good pun huh!. One last thing, but not at all least in this journey, is time; time for the wine to be allowed to mature, to meditate and to discover itself. Ohmmmm!

Here stands the Big Red, ready to face the world and stare down the most juiciest of steaks, ready to bully the unprepared palate into submission.  But fear not, a well-exercised palate armed with a seasoned steak, some Kangaroo, Osso Bucco, ripe Venison or even some humble but hearty snags, will turn this untamed stallion into the most compliant and complimentary companion.  All that remains for you to do is make sure that you share this with people worthy of the experience. You might need a decanter. Good company, after all, is the essential ingredient to enjoying any Big Red.

If you enjoy big REDS join us for our Big RED event in July. We have called it Big RED, 60 big RED, 1 afternoon. We have some iconic wineries showing their wines.

 Check out our events here.



The Swig 

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