Plonk for punters


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 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 website.
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.”