Wine Talk

Snooth User: bmulkey

Has anyone tried the pocket-sized (187 ml) Yellow Tail Shiraz?

Posted by bmulkey, Nov 6, 2012.


I'm rather new to wine. I've only had de-alcoholized red wines from Ariel and I've had some red and white wines with some relatives who really know their wine. I remember enjoying it very much. But recently I've gotten into wine on my own.
I recently picked up some Yellow Tail Shiraz from a nearby Total Wine store. Specifically, I picked up a four-pack of 187 mL Yellow Tail Shiraz bottles. The bottles were screw-capped, glass, and the wine itself was a 2010 vintage (13.5% ABV). I was rather disappointed. The wine had a very bitter, medicine-like taste that burned my throat and made me shudder. It was very hard to drink, and quite nasty. I know better wine exists--the ariels I've tried were much better!  
I should mention that I drank the wine at room temperature--I didn't have time to cool it properly. If I'm correct, red wine can be served around 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Perhaps the wine was too warm, but then again, it was so bitter and medicine-like that it's hard to believe the wine was just a little too warm. Do any of you more experienced wine enthusiasts have an idea as to what might have gone wrong? I've had wine before--both red and white--and greatly enjoyed it from what I can remember. But maybe wine is an acquired taste after all. Or perhaps you get what you pay for ...
Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated!

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Reply by Terence Pang, Nov 7, 2012.

Pretty straight forward to address your query, which is quite justified no doubt.

Don't buy yellow tail. To be more "correct", I wouldn't recommend yellow tail shiraz based on my own personal experiences with the wine. It is a bulk produced wine with the sole purpose of providing the US market with a cheap Australian wine. Mind you, this Australian wine isn't an accurate representation of the myriad of wine styles this country is able to produce.

Admittedly, I don't know another other label which bottles in 187mL. Perhaps other members of the forum can offer alternatives.

Red wine can be drunk at 65F, so you aren't consuming it at too warm a temperature.


I do apologise if my response seems curt. I'm rather intolerant of Yellow Tail.

Reply by bmulkey, Nov 7, 2012.

Terence, thanks for your helpful reply. After last night's drinking experience, I can understand your intolerance for yellow tail--it was really awful.

Still, it's surprising to see all the wonderful reviews people give Yellow Tail wines--even the Shiraz. I guess that goes to show that every bottle of wine is different. 

Sutter Home also makes 187 mL bottles of most of its wines. I got a pack of the Sutter Home Merlot 2010 that I'm going to try tonight. I have high hopes for it. 

Once again, thanks for your reply. And there's no need to apologize--I totally understand. *wink*

Reply by Terence Pang, Nov 7, 2012.

Just out of curiosity, what other Australian wines are stocked at your local store?

Reply by EMark, Nov 7, 2012.

Bmulkey--Welcome to the world of wine.  I hope that we here at Snooth can give you encouragement and information to help you with your oeno-explorations.

Typically, wine offered in 187ml-sized bottles are not very distinctive, and they can be plain awful.  I'm guessing that in your exploration phase, you would prefer not to invest in 750ml full-sized bottles.  I might suggest that you look for 375ml (half bottle) sizes.  Many good, very good and excellent wineries have offerings in this size.  The selection of 375s at Total Wines will be modest, but they should have some.

Please forgive any typos or poor grammar in this post.  I'm trying to figure out my wife's IPad.  It is different.

Reply by bmulkey, Nov 7, 2012.

@Terence: There appears to be quite a few, such as Gumdale, Jip Jip Rocks, Mallee Point, Terra Barossa, etc. What would you recommend, even if it's not Australian? I do my shopping at Total Wine. Here's a link to their Australian wines:

@Emark: Thank you for the warm welcome! I believe I'm beginning to agree with you--wine in 187 mL bottles is awful. I tried a Sutter Home Merlot this evening. Unlike the Yellow Tail Shiraz, the bouquet was not offensive and the wine tasted good on the front of my tongue, but once I rolled the wine on the back of my tongue and into my throat, I still got a harsh, bitter medicinal taste that made me shudder, but not as much as the Yellow Tail. It was a step up from the Yellow Tail, but only a step up. I know I've had better red wine! Do you have any idea what that harsh, bitter taste might be caused by? High acidity perhaps? I can't get that taste out of my mouth!

What are some of your favorite wines (brand / region and varietals)?


Reply by maggie doyle, Nov 8, 2012.

Penfolds Red are a safe Australian wine as are the Margaret River wines.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 8, 2012.

Welcome, Bmulkey, everyone is a beginner at wine at some point, although some of us, for reasons of age or permissive parents (in my case, both) would be hard pressed to tell you when they were beginners.  But all of us continue to learn and, when it comes to new varieties or regions, we are beginners all over again.  Which is the reason to be here--showing off your erudition on wine here will lead to someone showing you how much you have to learn!

Frankly, I'd skip the half bottles--love ya, Emark, but taking exception on this one.  Just my opinion, but I will explain it.  First, let me just say, I'm a big fan of half bottles.  Here's what I said elsewhere on the forum:

I occasionally purchase 1/2 bottles, we have a couple babysitters we leave them for if they eat with the kids.  (Less so now that we can use teenagers and save both wine and the money that older sitters cost!) I also purchase them because my wife travels and I don't want to consume a bottle over 3-4 days, so I open a half bottle and may drink it over two.  But the main draw for a 1/2 is still at restaurants when we want a cocktail or a glass of sparkling first, or if we want to order white then switch to red mid meal.  That way, we can still drive home without either leaving wine behind or walking out with the remnants.

But the selection is limited (not as much as 187s, but more than 750s) and limited selection is the last thing you want when you are starting out.  They also tend not to be a good value because they are either lesser wines or sell for more per ounce (cl, outside the US) because of the limited market. I usually buy them when they are on sale at the end of a vintage, because otherwise I don't like the value proposition.

And beside, wine is supposed to be social, unless you want to wind up like GregT who has to lure people over with lodging accommodations to have a drinking partner.  ;-) Find some folks who want to learn about wine--your friends are a good place to start, but wine is also a terrific way to make new friends.  (Just through this site, I've made friends with--in the offline way--JonDerry, outthere, GdP, and, yes, GregT, unless he took that remark to hear, and through GregT, Eric Guido.)

It's not really helpful to ask what someone's favorite wines are as a guide to what you would like until you have a better idea of what you like. That's where wine shops are helpful. If you worry that they are snobby, well, walk out of the snobby ones until you find one that isn't.  Snobby wine merchants deserve to be out of business, unless their purpose is to cater strictly to those with more money than taste.  Anyone who doesn't get pleasure out of good, reasonably priced wine is a misanthrope or something worse.  Your neighborhood wine shop can ask questions about what you have had so far even if that's limited, what you've liked about it, and what you don't like, and try to match something to you. Then check back in the discussions here and see whether anyone here or on the review side liked what you did and follow them.  Don't give up on the wine shop because something didn't thrill you, but go back and tell them what you liked and didn't and they can refine it from there.  You've already wound up with two bad purchases with no help, so give them a couple misses along the way.  Also, you might find that people on here share your taste in one kind of grape but diverge in another.  I trust GdP on Zinfandel, but I think we have different reference points on Pinot Noir.  GregT and I both like similar kinds of Spanish wine, but he doesn't like Pinot at all, as far as I can tell.

There is a good side to "splits," the 187 ml bottles:  You can sneak them into places like movie theatres and ball games more easily.  (Hint:  don't try hiding them in the fingers of a baseball mitt if you are going to a football game Not your worry in Australia.)  I've had the odd decent one, and a fair number of decent Cava makers and other sparklers sell them for picnic purposes.  But no how no way the right way to learn about wine--far too limiting.  A very minor increase in investment--there are Cotes du Rhones for under $10 that provide pleasure and education, Protocolo Tempranillo is usually under $10, and on and on--pays big dividends in full size bottles.

Reply by EMark, Nov 8, 2012.

Well, Foxall is right about a lot of things, but he is wrong about 1/2 bottles. ;-)

He is right about exploration.  If you're interested in Aussie Shiraz, also try a Rhone Syrah (Syrah and Shiraz are the same.) or a California Syrah.  Ask for coaching in your local store.  I am a California bigot.  So, my likes may not really broaden your horizon.  However, you can click on my Snooth profile to see what I have been drinking lately.

Reply by Terence Pang, Nov 9, 2012.

BMulkey, from that website, the Shotfire Ridge and the Fireblock would be wines to try. The rest look below average to me.

Reply by CheloSpahn, Nov 9, 2012.


Welcome to Snooth from Latin Americaaa!

I'm very pleased of having you around here as well as the guys. (Hope you keep writting)

From my point of view you started with the not so accurate wines as a begginer. Yellow Tail and Sutter Home are not so good exponents, i'm not saying they are awfull or the worst wine in the world; in other terms there is no such thing as a "bad wine" just different qualities.

If you want to start knowing a little more about wine you should read and as everyone said get some aid from  your local store and you should deffinately open your wallet for buying $15 to $20 wines.

Hope this is helpfull.

And remember I Drink wine therefore I exist!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 9, 2012.

Emark, surely you don't think I am wrong that the selection of half bottles is less?  Or that it's more enjoyable to drink in the company of others? Or that GregT needs more and nicer friends than GdP? ;-)

I like half bottles enough that I seek them out at restaurants and have linked to Halfwit wines before, a site specializing in 375mls.  Just saying that the time and effort spent seeking half bottles in one's early experience isn't my idea of a good ROI. Of course, we had a bottle of Pontificis last night, me and the babysitter, mostly me, before my wife got home and opened a bottle of Basel Cellars Syrah (a Garagiste mystery wine pickup--my last ever) when she sat down and ate.  So finishing a 750 bottle isn't a huge problem.

Reply by vin0vin0, Nov 9, 2012.

Not sure about yours but the Total Wine store near me holds free informal tastings on Fridays and Saturdays. They normally have their value priced wines ($8-$12/bottle) to sample but occasionally put up something nice as well. Good way to taste a half dozen different wines to get a jump start on your education.

Reply by zufrieden, Nov 9, 2012.

Best to attend tastings at your local wine (or liquor) merchant, share and discuss the results of wine purchases with friends who share your interest in the hedonic heights of wine appreciation and (finally) pick up some literature on winetasting.  Yellow Tail Shiraz is not so bad as some have suggested - only it has nothing to recommend it in terms of hedonics - except, perhaps as a baseline from whence the novice steps up to another niveau.

I personally would not even take Yellow Tail for a night of debauchery and "session drinking" let alone drink it on a cold November evening here in the Pacific Northwest. But we must start somewhere; we all have our horror stories from the deep, dark past.

For power, try spending about 2-3 times the amount on Yellow Tail and move up to an name brand from South or Western Australia ( a few Hunter Valley wines in NSW come to mind as well).  You will notice an immediate uptick in value.  Similarly, move into the Rhone and Provence regions of France to compare on the "elegance" quotient.  Your learning curve will ramp up at at an accelerated rate along a well-known sigmoid function et voilà - you are drinking and appreciating wine with the best of us.

Try to find out what the fuss is about and the effort will pay off.







-  soon you are quaffing knowledgeably with the best of us!

Reply by Degrandcru, Nov 9, 2012.

chelospahn: "there is no such thing as a bad wine"...

funny, an american friend of mine always says this and I always argue with him. In my opinion there is a lot of bad and some very bad wine out there. As you mentioned, there are different qualities, meaning good qualities and bad qualities. Sure, there are different tastes, but even wines that I dislike for my preferences I can judge if they are good or bad quality wines. And Yellow Tail is certainly a bad, a very bad wine.

Bueno, solo mi punto de vista. Saludos desde Mexico.

Reply by zufrieden, Nov 10, 2012.

Definitely bad from a more (shall we say) discerning point of view... but I recall seeing not a few old dears picking this wine up for Christmas Dinner with their offspring and their offspring's offspring.  I know it is hard to believe, but this wine has actually gotten worse over the last 5 years - perhaps to pay back the cost of all that marketing hype...

Reply by zufrieden, Nov 10, 2012.

BTW, thare are bad wines...many bad wines.  Much depends on the principal reason for drinking alcoholic beverages...

Reply by napagirl68, Nov 11, 2012.

Half bottles can be ok... really ok!   I have 6 left of the 2006 Stonefly Cabernet Franc, Napa valley (yeah, I badmouthed 2006, but winemaker got this one right!  Wine of the year for 2006??). 

Anyway, I did not seek out the half bottle, it was all that was left.  That said, the size of the bottle does affect how a wine ages.  I'm sure many have had the opportunity to taste the same wine at a winery or tasting event- the same wine, but bottled in normal 750ml format, magnum, and jeroboam.  You can definitely discern a difference.   I had a jeroboam (large bottle holding the equivalent of 4- 750m bottles) of an amador Zin awhile back.  This wine should have been past drinking time for such a big, higher alcohol wine, but it was actually quite good, even better than the 750ml that I had opened two years earlier.  

If you buy the smaller bottles because you will only have one glass, there are ways of storing an opened bottle of wine to prolong its life.  I typically pump it down/seal with rubber stopper made for this, and put in refrigerator.  The refrigerator is too cold to serve most whites (and all reds), but when ready to drink again, I take it out and leave on the counter at room temp for several hours before drinking.   This has generally served me pretty well. 

BTW- yellow tail is awful.  If I had drunk this wine as a beginner, I may have given up wine!   I am so picky with my wine now...   I am a bit high maintenance.   If you are into Sauv Blancs, and want to try another new world SB, try a few from New Zealand.... Cloudy Bay and Babich are a couple I have liked in the past...

Reply by Degrandcru, Nov 11, 2012.

Napagirl: I don't think you are high maintenance (talking only about wine of course), being picky comes naturally with taking wine seriously. I got a lot more picky myself in the last years. Also I hardly never buy wines anymore I haven't tried and liked. Just spent too much money on wines I didn't like and that what tasting are for.

Reply by napagirl68, Nov 11, 2012.

Just spent too much money on wines I didn't like and that what tasting are for.

Been there, done that, Degrandcru...  which is why I tend to buy in large quantity a wine I really like.  I still take my chances here and there, but more of an educated guess... based on some online reviews if wine is unknown to me.

Reply by bmulkey, Nov 12, 2012.

Thanks for all the replies, if I may say so.

I went to a tasting at my local store, and I actually was able to taste some good wine! They had two reds--a Pinot Noir and a Beaujolais that were both waaay better than the other crap I had. As a side note, probably my favorite wine I tasted was a dessert wine based on the Moscato varietal. Good stuff.

I also decided to go ahead and buy a 750 mL bottle just for kicks. I tried a Bordeaux red wine (75% Merlot 25%; Cabernet Sauvignon)--for $10, it was several steps up from the Yellow Tail and Sutter Home wine (can I call it wine in good conscience? Vinegar perhaps?)  But it was still a little harsh. Very leathery mouth feel, and still a bit bitter/medicinal. Perhaps, if it was a "Left Bank" Bordeaux it needed more time to mature/age. Thankfully I had some hard cider to cleanse my palate :) I'm thinking I'm probably going to have to spend $15-20 on average to get a decent red wine that will, once I take one sip, ask me to take another ...

In your experience, for those of you who use U.S. dollars, how often is it you find a good bottle of wine for $10? Or do you usually have to pay at least $15-20? Of course, expensive wine can be bad too, I'm sure. No need to tell me that.

@Napagirl68: I know what you mean about giving up on wine if Yellow Tail had been your first taste! When I first tasted wine with my relatives, it was really good. There was nothing I didn't like about it and wanted more. I've always heard that bad wine "is out there" but when I made some of my first purchases, I learned the hard way that that applied to me too! Bad wine seems more common than I thought, though it could be that you and I are just more picky than others. I haven't tried enough to know. 

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