Premium wine for the people

Chris Kitchener from Byron at Byron samples Penfolds by the glass, but which one? (The Grange is in the middle!)

Chris Kitchener from Byron at Byron samples Penfolds by the glass, but which one? (The Grange is in the middle!)

Russell Geggie

Remember way back when the local wine industry introduced us to the screw caps on wine bottles and wine drinkers the world over were turning up their noses at the Australian industry? Sacrilege! Blasphemy! Fast forward twenty-odd years and now they are commonplace here in Australia, and even some of the French producers are using the screw cap for certain wines.

The screw cap suits our Australian lifestyle; no more getting to a picnic and realising that you forgot the corkscrew, but the screw cap has also vastly reduced the frequency of bottles being ‘spoiled’ due to air getting through the cork.

A new advance in wine storage and dispensing is wine on tap, like the system at Hotel Brunswick that we discussed in The Good Life in October last year. It delivers wines at the optimal temperature, unoxidised as if they had been poured from a fresh bottle, and that system replaces over 40 glass wine bottles with one collapsible, recyclable keg, hugely reducing waste.

In the past, restaurants have had to limit the amount of wine offered by the glass and would rarely offer premium wines ‘by the glass’ owing to wastage; once open the bottle would only survive a day or so depending how much wine was in the bottle.

Now the Byron at Byron has partnered with Penfolds to install a similar system, a self-service wine station in their restaurant that delivers premium wines from the bottle, by the glass. The system uses gas to fill the bottle as the wine is emptied through the dispenser; this keeps the wine fresh in the bottle, without oxygenation, for weeks.

This has finally made premium, top quality wines accessible to everyone. Penfolds Grange is arguably the most celebrated Australian wine, and yet most Australian wine drinkers haven’t tried it before, as vintages retail for more than $500 dollars upon release and climb from there. So while a whole bottle of the treasured wine in a restaurant will cost around $900, this system provides a small 25ml ‘taste’ for $22, a 75ml glass for $115, or a 150ml standard pour for $220, finally making it accessible for a normal workers to enjoy a first-class meal and wine to match.

If you would like to try the best Penfolds has to offer, why not time your visit to coincide with the Byron at Byron’s Farmers Market Dinner on Thursday nights to also sample the best fresh produce this region has to offer? Reservations recommended – phone 6639 2111.

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