Though once dominated by British culinary tastes, Australian cuisine is now influenced by a variety of Mediterranean and Asian foods introduced by immigrant cultures. Many people living outside of Australia think of native Bush Tucker when they contemplate Australian food, but Southeast Asian, Greek, Lebanese and Italian influences are now more common.
Cabernet-merlot blends and other multiple variety "Bordeaux blends" have increased in popularity in Australia. Pinot noir is yet to receive wide consumer acceptance but some excellent wines are being made. Chardonnay is ubiquitous and ranges in style from light, simple, unwooded, everyday quaffers right through to highly sophisticated, complex and Burgundy-like. The range of prices is just as wide, from $5 to $50 for current release Chardonnays.
Semillon, particularly from the Hunter Valley, is a highly prized dry white that's often delicate and austere when young, but it keeps well and a little age can transform it into one of our most complex and intriguing, rich, full-bodied dry whites.
Sauvignon blanc and fume blanc are also popular, but of perplexing, variable quality and style. Perhaps the best value are the increasingly fashionable semillon-sauvignon blanc blends, which are crisp, grassy and pleasingly fruity. The work horse of Aussie red wine, Shiraz (also known as hermitage and Syrah), is making a comeback after a decade of neglect. Rhine Riesling is still a big seller and is the best value for money in white wine, but its popularity has been eroded greatly by the rise of Chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.
Generic styles such as claret, burgundy and white burgundy have been popular in the past but as Australia matures as a nation of wine drinkers and the industry becomes aware that it is part of a world market, generic names are used less and varietal names and proprietary brands are gathering popularity. Today, generic Chablis is still very popular as is fume blanc (which may or may not contain sauvignon blanc grapes) while the use of "champagne" is also in decline and increasingly confined to the cheaper, mass-produced sparkling wines. Port and sherry are two generic names that seem certain to endure.
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This page modified January 2007
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