Former public servant Emma Shaw has developed a fine nose for a good wine but it wasn’t always the case.
A couple of years ago she was wanting to do more than have a tipple and began looking in vain for a course in Canberra that would give her a no-fuss introduction to wine in a safe and fun place where she would not feel intimidated.
Emma ended up having to go to Sydney for that, and while it launched her on a new career trajectory, she always thought it was crazy that Canberra, with its brilliant wine region, didn’t have such a course.
“There are some fantastic formal courses here but not much if you just want to dip your toes in the water and learn a bit in a non-threatening environment,” she said.
Now working part-time at Collector Wines and studying wine-making through Charles Sturt University, she’s decided to fill that gap in the market and establish pique-nique, a friendly intro to wine.
“One of the things I’m really keen on is helping people feel confident with wine because I think sometimes people can be put off by a bit of wine snobbery,” she said.
“What I really want people to get out of this is that wine is fun, I can explore it, I can trust my palate.”
Partnering with the newly renovated Canberra Wine House in Dickson, Emma will launch her first course on 14 December with a range of the region’s best varieties and some matching appetisers so people can fully appreciate the magical chemistry when food and wine combine.
“I’m big on wine with food,” she said. “I don’t like a culture where we drink for the sake of drinking.”
For Emma it’s all about the congeniality of the occasion, and what food and wine can bring to it.
She also wants to introduce people to the region’s outstanding wines and an amazing local industry that she says is very under-rated.
“I don’t think people realise how good it is. We punch above our weight,” Emma said.
“There are so many fantastic winemakers here who deserve to be highlighted, and the region’s reputation is just growing exponentially.”
She wants to encourage Canberrans to try the local wines and then explore the region’s cellar doors.
“There’s so much to discover,” Emma said.
What pique-nique goers will discover is how we taste, the importance of our noses, what effects particular varieties will have on the palate and how matching food can enhance the whole experience.
You can even record your discoveries in a specially provided booklet that also provides an overview of the wine-making process, some handy online and book references and, not least, a 10 per cent discount at selected cellar doors.
At $90 for the two hours, it’s a great way to discover your own nose for good wine, without being worried about not knowing your bouquets from your terroir.
Emma plans to run regular courses at Canberra Wine House but is available for private group courses. She can be reached at 0421 510 091, or on Facebook.