Well that and the knowledge I have gained, which I share with you:
The Eight Shiraz-ments*
*At the risk of offending any of my more devout readers, if I have any, this post will likely be irreverent. Also, I had to google "The Ten Commandments." Surprisingly some didn't correspond appropriately to drinking. Proceed with caution.
Remember the promised land
One of the most important lessons I learned on my blogging and drinking journey was about geography. The fact is, Australia created Shiraz (sneakily ripping off the French Syrah) and they do it best. Sure, there are some great bottles from other areas, but it is rare to find a dud in the Australian section. In fact, exactly half of the bottles I reviewed were from Australia, and only one bottle ended up on the "Do Not Buy" section of the shopping list. And, four out of five of my "MVP" labels were Australian. So, when in doubt, remember the promised land. I know I will if I am ever in the unfamiliar waters of a restaurant wine list.
Honor thy Wolf
It is important to give respect where it's due. And, in my humble opinion is that Wolf Blass is the father of Shiraz. It is a label that has yet to fail me at any price-point. You can get the very reasonably priced Eaglehawk ($13), the mid-range Yellow Label ($18), or splurge on the Premium ($30) and you will not taste a single sip of disappointment on your palate. In Wolf Blass we trust.
Covet your neighbour's wine
Yeah, you read that right. Go on and covet that expensive bottle of wine your rich neighbors are sipping while they dine on beluga caviar at their mahogany table. There are some tasty more expensive labels that are worth their weight in wine. My faves in the $18-25 range, aside from the Wolf Blass listed above, are Mission Hill, McWilliams, Wakefield, Rosemount and Wyndam Bin 555.
You shall not steal, but you can get a good deal.
I know I just filled your head with dreams of coveting your neighbour's expensive wines, but you really can get great wine at a reasonable price. There are plenty of sales at the liquor store that allow to to save a few bucks here and there on mid-priced or expensive brands, but there are some low-priced bottles that should not be overlooked and will not leave you wishing you'd spent more. The five that will become staples at my house are: Black Swan, the Little Penguin, Jackson Triggs, Copper Moon, and Gato Negro.
Judge not lest ye be judged
Don't judge a wine by its label. We've all been there - called to the check-out line by the generic cute animal on a colorful label. It is hard not to judge based on appearance or cost. But, I have been disappointed by good looks and high price-tags before. Similarly, there have been wines I sneered at (hello? Billyrock Station? Wine in a CAN?) only to quickly change my tune after taking a taste.
Thou shalt not commit wine-icide.
Murder is bad, and what I did to poor Banrock Station was wrong. I know that now. Please, don't make the same mistake I did. When you find a delicious wine, savour it. There is no need to devour the entire bottle in one sitting by yourself. Have a couple glasses and then put a cork in it. Don't kill your desire to ever drink that brand again. And certainly don't resurrect the wine into the porcelain throne.
Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
Some of you might not have recently researched the Sabbath on Wikipedia so here is the scoop: basically the Jewish people traditionally observe the Sabbath from sundown on Friday until Saturday evening and we all know Saturday goes well with Shiraz. But, the point isn't really the day, is it? Sabbath is derived from the Hebrew for "to cease" and that is the message I am trying to deliver. It doesn't matter what day or time you choose (hey, it's always noon somewhere, right?) but what matters is you give yourself a break once in a while. Sip and cease. Repeat.
Love thy neighbour as you love yourself.
What could possibly be more fun than enjoying a good bottle of Shiraz alone in front of the TV on a Saturday night? Sharing it with friends, of course! Seriously, although it is tempting to hoard your tasty wine to yourself, it is better enjoyed amongst good company. And, of greater note, wine can make bad company more tolerable. So share!
Oh, and vanilla. Many of the wines I've truly enjoyed had hints of vanilla.