Plonk for punters

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Wine headache? No, not the morning after but when in the supermarket wondering what’s a good drop to take home. Paul Tudgay is here to help. Ryan Keen reports

Meet Queenstown wine expert Paul Tudgay – a new scene.co.nz blogger – whose palate’s come a long way from its humble UK beginnings. 

“My hometown Smethwick, Birmingham – it’s about as far as you can get from what you’d associate with good wine,” he says. 

Tudgay, hosting a vino master class alongside Neil Taylor at the Gibbston Harvest Festival this Saturday, today kicks off his weekly wine blog at Mountain Scene’s scene.co.nz website.
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The Queenstown Resort College hospitality business manager and part-time wine appreciation lecturer aims to deconstruct the mysteries of good plonk for the average punter – and keep you up to date on the latest vintages, industry titbits and personal recommendations. 

He’s got the pedigree. 

Tudgay qualified as a wine sommelier about seven years ago from Britain’s Court of Master Sommeliers at a course in Auckland, coming top of his class. 

“I even beat a couple of French guys who were second and third. It gives you a lot of confidence in your own ability.” 

The English-born 38-year-old says he had his wine “epiphany” years ago in the UK when taking a London friend to lunch. 

“I wanted to impress her so spent 10 quid on a bottle – a Louis Labour Maconlygny.” 

Tudgay says drinking the French chardonnay is the first time he really experienced the softness and texture of a wine. 

“That was when wine stopped being just a drink for me. It was a key moment when I thought ‘Wow, this can be really beautiful’. Up till then, you drank wine just to look the part.” 

Of the upcoming Harvest Festival, Tudgay urges locals to get involved. 

“It’s a great locals’ day out. Spend a bit of time at the stalls of the wineries you like, feel the passion of those guys and ask them about the latest vintage.”