Sydney Series: My Wine Odyssey in Oz

Australia, Food & Wine — By on November 6, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Sydney was our last stop on our round-the-world trip, and we have plenty of amazing memories from living “Down Under.” Now ’til mid-November, we’re going to be recalling our favorite Sydney moments. At the end of each post, you’ll find out how to get the chance to make your own memories in Oz by entering to win a trip to Sydney (the organizers extended the deadline for entry!)


taste australiaBy Amanda Pressner
LG Executive Editor

I can’t believe that I’m admitting this now, but I wasn’t much of a wine drinker before Holly, Jen and I did our yearlong adventure around the world. In fact, I hardly drank the stuff at all, unless it was the only thing being offered at a wedding or forced upon me at a fancy dinner. I just couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about–I mean, wasn’t wine just an alcoholic version of grape juice?

I officially saw the light of day-and truly experienced an awakening of the taste buds-when my fellow LGs and I began touring the wineries in New Zealand’s Marlborough region and Australia’s Hunter Valley. As experienced guides took us through vineyards located in impossibly beautiful settings, showed us the vast, spotless warehouses where the grapes are crushed and then led us to the tasting rooms, I found myself enchanted with the whole process of coaxing a delicious but often temperamental fruit into the jewel toned liquid swirling at the bottom of my glass.

For the first time, as the winemakers clued me in to the various scents and notes and flavors of the wine, I actually began to taste the distinctions and developed a near instant connection to certain varietals. And as we traveled from one winery to the next, I suddenly realized: I actually liked wine. No, I loved it!

Australia Wine regionsI couldn’t be sure, of course, until I departed from those enchanted valleys and went back to my regularly scheduled life. But, to my happy surprise, I found myself missing those Australian wines almost the second I returned to the US-and determined to keep tasting glasses from all over to find varietals and vineyards I liked just as much.

Earlier this year, I got the incredible opportunity to visit New South Wales again to report on the Vivid Sydney festival for National Geographic Traveler and While I wasn’t able to get back to the Hunter Valley, I discovered an incredible new wine bar and restaurant called Wine Odyssey during my return to Sydney.

Located in a gorgeously restored historic building in The Rocks neighborhood (the oldest part of the city) Wine Odyssey offers guests a chance to sample as little as much as they’d like from a selection of more than 40 Australian wines. Rather than served in bottles, the wines are housed in an innovative Italian-developed vending station that dispenses either a taste (25 mL), a half glasss (75 mL) or a full glass (150 mL), each kept fresh via temperature control and nifty decanting devices, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. When you arrive, you simple load up the amount you’d like to spend on a plastic “smart card,” insert it into the machine and get tasting.

Once you’ve got your filled glass in hand, you can either get cozy in one of plushly decorated, vintage style drawing rooms or head upstairs to the aroma room and tasting theater, where you’ll be virtually versed in what you’re sipping.

I’ve been waiting for such a mecca of vino to appear here in New York City, but thus far, I’ve only experienced a true Wine Odyssey in Sydney. Rather than wait ’til the powers that be install one in my city, I might just have to return to Oz.

Wine Odyssey
39-43 Argyle Street, The Rocks, 1300 136 498

Want to join us in Australia? The folks at Tourism New South Wales are offering two winners a trip to Sydney for themselves and a friend including airfare on V Australia, seven nights accommodation and an exclusive ticket to experience at least five of the most “life enhancing” activities that the city has to offer, such as:

• Learning to Surf at Bondi Beach
• Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge
• Sailing on Sydney Harbour
• Going behind the scenes at Sydney Opera House

To enter, simply click here or go to and follow these steps:

1. Click on the “Win a Dream Sydney Vacation” button
2. Enter your contact info
3. Become a fan of Sydney, Australia on Facebook
4. On the Sydney, Australia Facebook Wall write in 30 words or less about a Sydney experience you’ve had, or would want to have.

The organizers have extended the deadline and the contest will now be running from now through November 15th! Get your entries in now, and we’ll see you Down Under!

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