One bottle, half a dozen wines, and an experience of a lifetime


I briefly mentioned in my last post about the importance of peeking over the wall every now and then to see what else is out there. I tend to think I am pretty spoilt for choice here in Australia with so many great local wines to choose from that it’s very easy to fall into the routine of grabbing a bottle of something you’re familiar with or from a winery you’re familiar with and as a result you end up missing out on some really great wine drinking experiences.

The other night I was given an opportunity to peek over that wall and what I found was exquisite.

The location for this occasion demands recognition and has been added to my list of truly special dinners and would not be out of place in the latest edition of Gourmet Traveller. Mom Tri’s Kitchen is tucked away on a rocky headland south of Kata Beach on the island of Phuket, Thailand.

The sunset views are the stuff of dreams and if you have not yet proposed to your partner in life you probably will have done so by the time you leave here, possibly the only thing to make it more perfect would be a dolphin riding a unicorn off into the sunset.

Getting back to our wine list, the fare for the evening was going to be seafood and vegetarian for my wife, so naturally the allure of a chilled white was hard to ignore.  The heat, in the mid to high 30s (proper temp, ie, degrees Celsius), was also hard to ignore… there would be no red this evening.

Scanning through the pages of plonk I see wines from the US and recall some comments left on my last post about the choice of wines available in the USA. For such a special occasion as this I really didn’t want to blow it on a poor wine choice, a proposition we have all been in before…better the devil you know right? Not this time and thanks to those from USA who left me comments last post, this one is for you.

wine wankers mcmanis family vineyards pinot grigio good california wine

While the glass of bubbles did its thing my eye kept coming back to a McManis Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio out of California, a variety both my wife and I enjoy but I have to say I cannot recall experiencing wines from Cali before.

A complimentary Carrot Soup “shot” was cause for pause and in the words of today’s less angst ridden youth, OMFG. I wouldn’t believe something so orange could taste so good.

The head was ripped off the bottle of wine and first glasses poured as we waited for the entree to arrive, a three cheese soufflé for my wife and some sashimi and wasabi for myself.

It was at this point I realized I was missing something, not as in lost but lacking. Remember all those dinners of past the bottle would arrive and with amounts of flare directly proportional to the price of the bottle, the cork would be extracted with a pop that is the wine aficionados equivalent to the starters pistol. That sound you still get from a bottle of bubbly that triggers something inside that is our own little tribute to the poor salivating hound of Pavlov.

This simple sound, the slightest squeak of cork on glass followed by a second of anticipation before the evening is initially started. This is what is missing from our modern day boozing. The gentle crack of aluminum tearing just doesn’t do it anymore… Pavlovs dog just tilts its head to one side as if to ask “what’s that?”

This is something our kids will grow up without, perhaps someone can write an app that will give me the sound of said cork being extracted from a bottle, for it is then that my brain says “it’s drinking time!!!”

The entrees arrive and yes I will admit it wasn’t too much of a struggle to start the drinking, but I know you all get my point.

image-mcmanis-grigioThe Pinot Grigio itself was great, lovely citrus flavours, a strong hint of melons and a lovely after taste of fruits, pretty much what you would expect but packaged really well.

The Wine Wankers talk a lot about matching food and wine and I agree, a single bottle can take your palette to numerous places depending on the food. The wine will highlight certain elements in the food and the food will change how you taste the wine.

My sashimi with wasabi, simplistically elegant and the strong flavour of the wasabi eliminating the citrus flavours from the wine leaving a smooth softer longer lasting taste of melon and pear, while for my wife and her three cheese soufflé the citrus of the wine lifted the ginger and completely changed the complexion of her dish. Whilst I am speaking of this soufflé I have to say this is one of the finest dishes I have ever sampled, just stunning. The waiter assures me the crab soufflé is even better and I am wishing I had passed on the sashimi.

Next up my lobster hits the table as does my wife’s Wild Mushroom Risotto. I am told I make the worlds best risotto, my wife is so kind, but credit where it’s due and especially as we are not nestled in some winery on a rolling Tuscan landscape, this dish was nearly perfect and well above expectation.

My lobster was great, a nice lemon garlic butter and Thai style fish and chili sauce that again did wonderful things with the Grigio all over again as it did with the risotto as is the wonderfully complimentary nature of wine.   I ticked a new box tonight and have a new found respect for the whites from California, if they are all this good then I am a fan!

The wine now empty and our bellies now full as we sip a sweet little iced wine and try to squeeze a little dessert in and I look around me and try to take in the past few hours and just how special this night was.

Yes the destination was sublime, but so was the journey and for me it’s often the journey that is more important than the destination. The highlight of the journey this time was in the discovering that a single bottle can give you the experience of half a dozen different wines. Now isn’t that a journey worth undertaking the next time you’re looking for an adventure?

Author: Ben



  1. LOL! Hey, you’re in luck, too. It seems there will be a bumper crop of grapes/wines issuing forth from the California Central Valley (Napa Valley wine region) this year! California wines are prized around the globe, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that we could please your discriminating palate ;).

    We have a number of new vineyards near here, north of the Los Angeles Basin…and of course, Temecula is to the south in Riverside County — very well-known, too for it’s vineyards and vintages. My boyfriend’s son actually owned and operated Miramonte Winery in Temecula before he sold out to his partner about a decade ago. That is where I fell in love with Rieslings…theirs was especially refreshing and pear-y, peachy.


  2. Isn’t it nice to be able to try something from a far off land and have it be special when it isn’t what you are used to day in and day out? I primarily drink Californian wine ‘cuz, well, I live in California. But, on occasion, I draw a bottle from down under and share that same enjoyment you had with McManis. Glad it was a nice addition to your lovely evening.


  3. LOL! I love the prose my man! Well done, bubbly and PG is a fine evening, if I say so myself! Love the comments on the lack of pop in your wine life that evening – I guess the bubbly was not opened in front of you. Either way – the place sounded great – enjoy!


  4. Beautiful spot and it sounds like a beautiful dinner! 🙂 Yes, California makes some pretty great wine. Other N. American areas that are relatively unknown but also produce some good wines are Washington state and the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. If you can find it, try the Black Hills Note Bene.


  5. The French turned Californian loves this post. Yes, we do make great wines in California and like Lyneete writes above, pretty much everywhere in the country (with mixed results) winemakers are making wine. France was #1 for the longest time. Not anymore since other countries like Argentina and yes, Australia have brought nice bottles to the tables. Thanks for sharing the dream photos, too.


  6. You’re so right! The sound of that cork is vital!

    You’re also right about how easy it is to settle into a routine and go with the tried-and-true. One of the things I like about your blog is that it’s given us the opportunity to pick up something new (something you’ve recommended) and feel pretty sure it’s going to be a success.

    We haven’t been disappointed yet.

    Cheers! 😀


  7. Great piece but I’m off booze for Lent, so I’m now so craving a chilled, condensation covered glass of something classy and grassy, and it’s only 11.30am! Roll on Easter Sunday….


  8. What a stunning blog you have!!! I love your photography!

    I came here to personally thank you for your support of my article I wrote at The Talking Violin, regarding cellphones on planes. It really meant a lot to me. (((HUGS))) Amy


  9. First, great blog. I like the way you write about your wine discoveries. I also like the fact that you are ‘looking over the wall’. I have just started a company promoting the foods and wines (and cars) of Emilia Romagna in Italy. The food is very well-known, the wines are not at all.. And makes perfect sense that the wines produced in this reason accompany the food (Ragù alla Bolognese, Lasagne, Tortellini in broth, Tortelloni with Ricotta and Spinach, Parmigiano Reggiano, Mortadella, Prosciutto di Parma etc. etc.). Lambrusco has had a bad deal over the years, but there are some really excellent ones around – they need to be discovered and given some good press. The wines of the Colli Bolognesi (Bolognese Hills) are really emerging. Here in Emilia Romagna we are very lucky to have some amazing Michelin star restaurants – Osteria Francescana (3*- also no. 3 on the world’s best restaurant list and winner of the Global Gastronomy award), Il Marconi (2*), Trattoria da Amerigo (1*), San Domenico (2*) and Bruno Barbieri, the chef who has had the most Michelin stars in the world comes from Bologna. What do they all have in common? They all promote the local wines, especially Pignoletto, a light sparkling white wine made from an autoctonous grape and which grows only in the Bologna hills. When you go to their restaurants, the local wine list is the first they put on the table. I don’t think chefs of this level would risk their reputation by offering mediocre wines. My job now is to work together with wine producers here and to promote some of the really amazing wines that there are and that really need to be discovered. We have also entered into a collaboration with FISAR the Italian Federation of Sommeliers for the Restaurant and Catering industry) – they provide the truly professional support in the discovery of the wines of the region. We also run courses for anyone interesting in discovering these wines


      • Thanks for your support, Ben. I have just launched my site (10 days ago!) so the information is very new and is only the beginning of a lot more to come. I will be writing several blogs together with our local wine expert who is the head of Bologna’s FISAR delegation (Italian Delegation of Sommeliers for the Restaurant and Catering Industry), this to give us credibility both in Italy and abroad.
        As for the cars, yes, the finest and fastest 😉 Obviously not to be driven after wine-tasting…
        As we slowly discover where the local wines are being sold abroad we will let you know. I also update regularly on Facebook – if you go and ‘like’ the page you’ll get some juicier posts.


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