Understanding Wine, By A Chief Winemaker

Categories Lifestyle


Jacob’s Creek Chief Winemaker, Ben Bryant, gives us his five essential tips…

1.Experiment & experience new things

If your go-to is always a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, try something totally different like an Eden Valley Riesling instead. There is a lot of innovation in wine, and winemakers and wine lovers are always trying new things so don’t be hesitant to branch out. The Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel wine is an excellent example of innovation. We have a Barossa Shiraz finished in Scotch whiskey barrels and a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon finished in Irish whisky barrels; the affect is all in the finish of the wine.

2. Appellation (or regionality)

Appellation in wines refers to the where the grapes are grown. A wine can label an appellation if the grapes that have made it come from a specific region. Many countries have specific rules around appellation and have to adhere to them in the wines they blend. For example, at Jacob’s Creek, our flagship wine is our Barossa Signature Shiraz, which is made from Barossa Shiraz grapes to reflect the signature wine from that region. If a wine does not call out a region on the label then the grapes have been sourced from numerous regions and blended together, to reflect the desired wine style being made by a winemaker.


3. Know your audience-wine & match your occasion

Who you’re enjoying wine with is a key part of your choice, think about who you’re meeting and what you’re doing. If it’s guy’s night then opt for a great red, a backyard BBQ in the sun might call for a light and fresh white or if you’re after a touch of romance, a bottle of sparkling wine might be on the cards. Impress your guests with something different!!

A lot of people consider wine intimidating, but it’s all about enjoyment and bringing people together so embrace it – there is nothing to be concerned about. If you need some advice, you can always rely on the retail team where you are making your purchase; these guys know their stuff and are normally more than happy to provide a recommendation. If you’d prefer to do some self-searching, apps like Delectable are a great start, where people globally rate and discuss wines in an approachable manner.

4. Wine is personal

Some say the best wine is the one you’re enjoying currently right now. As with all things in life, it’s all down to your own personal taste– everyone has a different experience, palate and preference. The best thing you can do is try something new, enjoy what you already love and crack a bottle with people you enjoy spending time with.

5. Brose is the new Rosé


There’s a common misconception that Rosé is a ladies drink – nothing could be further from the truth. There’s no such thing as a gender-specific wine style, and Rosé’s popularity is due to its worldwide, universal appeal. In the last few years there has been a huge resurgence in men drinking more Rosé year round – there’s even a term for Rosé wine that men enjoy – “Brosé”! The other belief is the idea that all Rosés are sweet which isn’t the case; like any wine style Rosé can be sweet, dry, fruity, crisp, or anywhere in between. The colour of the wine doesn’t necessarily influence its sweetness; the flavour comes from the type of grape that is used to make the wine and the amount of time the wine spends in contact with the grape skins.  The back label will usually tell you if a wine is sweet or dry and give you an idea of the intensity of the flavours.



Ben began learning his craft from a young age, earning extra cash as a student pruning vines in the central ranges of NSW. In the 15 years since he’s had his hands in every part of winemaking. In the years to follow his degree in oenology at Charles Sturt University, Ben made wine in numerous regions across Australia, including the Barossa Valley, Mudgee, Hunter Valley and Riverina. He has also enjoyed experience overseas – not least his 2007 vintage experience in China, where he oversaw the winemaking operation for then 13,000T Helan Mountain winery in Ningxia Province. On his outlook on wine, he said: “Every wine should tell a story. When I taste a wine, I want to taste where it’s from, and be captivated by the experience. Wine is an adventure for me – it is enchanting, intriguing and exciting, and all of that should be reflected and celebrated in each glass.”