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Your Questions


I have just enjoyed a bottle of Catherine Riss Pinot Noir from Alsace but was surprised that the wine came in a riesling bottle, rather than a traditional Burgundy bottle. Is this a practice peculiar to Alsace – or can winemakers use any bottle shape they like for any style of wine?

Tim Saunders, Sydney, NSW

I agree, it does look unusual to see pinot noir, which is usually more at home in the sloping shouldered ‘Burgundy’ bottle, packaged this way. 

However, since regulations were introduced in 1930, all Alsace wines (irrespective of grape variety) must be bottled in the region of production and in tall bottles known as the Flûte d’Alsace. Some winemakers, such as Marcel Deiss, choose a very elongated bottle shape that looks amazing, but can be a pain when you are attempting to pack a mixed case of wine. I speak from experience.


I have recently developed a taste for Sherry (especially with food) but am a bit overwhelmed with the styles on offer. Is there a ‘path of discovery’ you would recommend for amateurs?

Catherine Weng, Melbourne, Vic

I read Julian Jeff’s book Sherry as a Diploma student many moons ago and now in its sixth edition, still regard it as the seminal book on the subject. But there are a couple of more recent books: Sherry, a Life’s Journey, by Philip Rowles, and Sherry, Maligned, Misunderstood, Magnificent!, by Ben Howkins, both make for excellent reading. Peter Liem’s Sherry, Manzanilla and Montilla is brilliant but hard to track down. 

While you study why not have a glass of this most splendid of drinks? Nicks Wine Merchants has a great selection and delivers Australia-wide. Tapavino, (Sydney), MoVida (Melbourne) and Alma and Cazador (Auckland) have excellent lists of sherry by the glass.


If I am unfortunate enough to have a fruit fly land in my wine I generally pluck it out if it’s only been in there for a few seconds, and continue drinking. A wine expert recently told me that they turn wine to vinegar as soon as they touch it… is this true?

Mike Fraser, Fremantle, WA

New Scientist magazine reported: “A single fly falling into your glass of wine may be enough to ruin it. We’re able to sense tiny quantities of a pheromone released by female fruit flies, and just one nanogram is enough to give a drink an unpleasant smell and taste.”

Although we can’t taste the offending pheromone as our perception of taste is reliant on our sense of smell, its presence is enough to ruin both the aroma and taste of the wine. And while it’s not going to turn the wine into vinegar, my eyesight isn’t good enough to see if it’s a male or female fly that’s landed in my wine. I’ll try and fish it out quickly but be prepared for the realisation the wine may now taste awful.  

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Readers published (18+ years eligible only) will receive a bottle of wine.