Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
American wine drinkers, I think, largely labor under the mistaken idea that Australian wine can be summed up in one word: Shiraz. Not that I’ve got anything against the grape - Shiraz (known as Syrah pretty much everywhere else) is one of the great wine varieties of the world.
What people don’t realize, unfortunately, is the extraordinary variety of other wines that Australia produces. It’s not actually a surprise, when you think about it - after all, you can fit France into Australia about 17 times over, so wouldn’t it make sense that the Aussies might have enough different climates and terrains to grow more than one kind of grape? Besides, people have been making wine in Australia since 1791; if the only thing to put in the bottle were Shiraz, Australia’s winemakers would have long since expired from boredom.
With that in mind, here are a few great non-Shiraz Aussie values I came across on a recent trip there:
Wild boar, rabbit, goat and venison may rank as alternative foods for carnivores around the world, but a slowly growing industry in Australia is taking to lesser-known native animals. Australian farmers are reporting an increased demand for local game supplies as they make their way onto restaurant menus - particularly in Melbourne.
Pubs are beginning to order game meat for their bistros. Philosophically, consumers are taking to game due to its environmentally-friendly, methane-free qualities.
A native food revolution? Not quite. But there is a push for these meats to gain more local and international attention, reports The Age.
The Prez – not so much a fan of the salty yeast extract that's a staple on sandwiches down under. In fact, he called the Australian spread "horrible." We'd tsk his diplomatic dealings here if we didn't so wholeheartedly agree.
White House Producer Shawna Shepherd weighs in at The 1600 Report