Wine Life with Max Allen: Is the goon bag making a comeback?

Illustration: Simon Letch.
Illustration: Simon Letch. Photo: .

News straight from the grapevine.

Wine forecast

First, they came for cork. Now they're coming for glass. Wine bottles, that is. And about time, too. Think about it: glass bottles require a huge amount of energy not only to produce but also to ship around the world. All those CO2 emissions!

That's why you're seeing more wine now being poured in restaurants on tap, from reusable kegs, as well as more wine sold in cans and pouches – and even bottles made from recycled paper (lined with plastic). We're seeing the return of the goon bag, too!

This trend will continue: the next generation will consume most of their wine from anything but glass, with old-fashioned bottles reserved for the rarest, poshest wines.

The Coravin Model 2 Elite.

The Coravin Model 2 Elite. Photo: Supplied

Wine toy

The Coravin is the ultimate gadget for wine geeks – especially wine-geek fathers (hint, hint): it uses a hollow needle to extract a glass of wine without you having to take the cork out of the bottle, and replaces the wine with inert gas, so the rest of the bottle doesn't spoil.

Now you – or dad – can enjoy that old Grange you've been saving for a special occasion – one glass at a time. The basic Coravin model starts at $379 and goes up to more than $1250 for the serious collector. Also works with screw caps.

Wine bargains

Barossa winemaker Dominic Torzi believes good wine doesn't have to be expensive. Torzi produces some of the most reliable, best-value bottles in the country under the Longhop and Old Plains labels, all around the $20 mark: recent standouts include a fine, floral Adelaide Hills riesling and spicy, brambly Adelaide Plains old vine grenache. Tuck these names away in the memory for the next time you're looking for a bargain.


Wine debut

Watch out for Mulline, an impressive new Geelong label from young winemaker Ben Mullen (ex-Clyde Park). Top picks: a mineral-rich 2019 Portarlington chardonnay and a spicy, sinewy 2019 Bannockburn syrah, botha serious $50 a bottle, but worth it.

Wine wishlist

Who: Cullen Wines, Margaret River

What: 2018 Diana Madeline Cabernet

Why: It's hard to imagine a more ravishly delicious, perfectly balanced, seamless and elegant-but-intensely flavoured red wine

When: Now to 2050

How much: $135


Wine for a cause

Funds from the sale of the black-fruited, slurpy 2019 Hills Appeal syrah meunier ($150 for six bottles) go to support winegrowers affected by the disastrous December bushfires in the Adelaide Hills. Great idea –and the wine's lovely, too.

Wine to your door

Wine Yarra Valley is offering (you might say "curating" if you were feeling fancy) a regular six-pack of top regional wines, delivered, for $175, including bottles to try while watching the weekly Yarra Valley WineDown, a series of interviews with local makers on Instagram.

​Max Allen is an award-winning journalist and author who has written about wine and drinks for close to 30 years.