Broadcaster and TV presenter Myf Warhurst has a soft spot for Champagne – and the humble cask. The Spicks and Specks star and Eurovision host explains how this led to a surprising collaboration.
H. Was there a particular bottle or moment that made you fall in love with wine?
M. Sadly, no. I grew up in Sunraysia [in regional Victoria] on a property with vines and spent my school holidays picking grapes and pruning. This was pretty harsh work, so I wasn’t initially enamoured with what grapes produced – my interest was gradual. Somewhere in my 20s, I finally realised there was more to wine than a cheap cask (Mildura created a lot of cask wine back then), beer wasn’t great for me, and those sweet sugary mixed drinks were a recipe for disaster. Wine seemed so much more delicious and interesting by comparison.
H. Which wines do you love?
M. I love a good white wine – I’m a middle-aged lady, of course I do! – and I particularly like a good, dry riesling. I’m a big fan of anything from Clare Valley and Eden Valley, and, increasingly, there are some glorious ones from Tasmania and Victoria, too.
H. Do you have a post-filming go-to drink?
M. Completing a show is a cause for celebration, so I would request Champagne for me and the guests. But because Spicks and Specks is filmed at the ABC, we usually only have one or two bottles of reasonably priced wines from the local bottle-o up the road, which, to be honest, is also fine. I’ve seen some of the biggest stars in the country happily sip on a Houghton’s White Burgundy.
H. You’ve been involved in the music industry for a long time. Have you shared some great bottles with wine-loving artists along the way?
M. I wish I could say I’ve shared a tipple with folk who love their wine and that I remember what the wine was, but this is not to be. I’ve shared wine, absolutely, but it’s usually been very late in the evening, the wine has been left over from a rider, and the experience something I can’t repeat here. But an absolute hoot, nonetheless.
H. Do you have a favourite food and wine experience?
M. On my 40th birthday, me and a select group of friends found ourselves in Porto, Portugal, as my partner at the time was performing at a festival. We spent an evening in a restaurant we’d read about that was in a suburban home, with local cuisine of the highest standard. It didn’t disappoint. We ate some of the most superb local produce and drank some incredible local wines in these ancient, homely surrounds. This will remain one of my favourite dining memories of all time. Porto is so much more than just about Port – their local wines are also fabulous.
H. How did your wine collaboration with Happy Sack come about?
M. I made a podcast, Our Place, which explored Australian culture and the designs that have had an impact, yet we know little about. The wine cask was one of my subjects and the story behind it was fabulous. It seemed perfect to collaborate with Happy Sack, which I found through the fabulous [Melbourne retailer] Blackhearts and Sparrows; they were bringing back the humble cask, but this time with decent wines. The team was good enough to let me make my own, and growing up in the (almost) home of the cask wine, it made a lot of sense. If you’re familiar with the famous Coolabah cask wine from the ’80s, you’ll understand why the Lonely Lady White Wine sack has a picture of me in my deb dress from the ’80s. I’m embracing the past and the future with the wine cask! Also, I’ve always secretly been a fan of the cask. For 20 years I’ve called it The Lonely Lady, for when you need a friend in the fridge. She’s always there, and she’s still drinkable, regardless of how long she’s been languishing. So, this was a bit of a funny dream come true!
H. Do you have any wine traditions for celebrating the big moments?
M. Champagne, always. I give it as gifts, and my job at family Christmas is to bring a case of it. I’m happy being the Champagne lady.
H. Is there any wine style you can’t learn to love?
M. I simply can’t do dessert wines. I don’t care how much people tell me they’re perfect with after-dinner things, they remind me too much of the sweet, sickly wines of my youth in a place where sweet, sickly wines were de rigueur.
H. What’s the oldest wine you’ve tried?
M. During Melbourne lockdown, my bubble buddy was going through an awful divorce, so she decided to drink some of the wedding wine she’d been gifted. It was lockdown seven in Melbourne and we both desperately needed something to look forward to, so we met up, in our tracksuit pants, and drank a 1985 Bollinger. It was the most delicious Champagne I’ve ever had – for so many reasons.
H. Is there a wine that isn’t great, but you love anyway?
M. I’m always partial to a Houghton’s White Classic [formerly White Burgundy], which was the go-to classic ’80s drop to take with you for a night out at the local Chinese restaurant. It’s still around today and, to be honest, I think it’s great!
H. Any wines you never used to like, but now love?
M. I used to detest chardonnay. I think it’s a hangover from the older styles my parents’ generation drank – they were heavy, woody and too buttery. But they’re so good these days that I’ve completely changed my tune.
H. Which wine region is still on your bucket list to visit?
M. Look, this is really basic, but I’ve never had a Champagne in Champagne, so it’s destined to happen one day.
H. What’s your best wine advice?
M. There’s never a better time than now to drink that wine.