I'm a student in Melbourne, who knows the importance of fun on a budget.
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Published October 8th 2012
Drunk on freedom? Or on free drinks?
Don't get too excited, they aren't giving out free bottles. Well, not unless you count their buy one get one free deals.
What they are doing are regular, free wine tastings. Every Friday from 4pm-7pm, and every Saturday from 2pm-6pm there's a line up of drinks to test. These tastings run an every single Dan Murphy's bar two: Burwood and Manley Vale, NSW.
I hear you, we all know that you can get free wine tastings at most cellar doors, but I want to tell you how Dan Murphy's are a bit different.
For one, you get to taste wines from across multiple climate regions, making it easier to compare and learn about wine. I went to Dan Murphy's on Friday, and, amongst my tasting group there were four shiraz wines, each from a different area.
We had great fun tasting each of them, and trying to guess where they came from: a jammy bouquet from Clare Valley, a more peppery scent from the Mornington Peninsula.
At most vineyards you're restricted to wines that are produced on site, and thus, from a particular region. There are a few odd places that offer tastings from a few winerys, however they don't even cross state lines. At Dan Murphy's you taste a variety of wines. The choices for the weekend are shown here on their website, a few days in advance.
A second plus of tasting at Dan Murphy's is simply that they have a far larger range. Along with this weeks wines, we tasted four beers, and a vodka. They also regularly include ciders in their line-up.
I'm not a big beer drinker, and wouldn't do a tasting at a brewery unless someone dragged me. However, I really enjoyed trying to taste past the bitter, yeasty bubbles, to the subtle flavours underneath. Win for Dan Murphy's expanding my horizons.
The third plus is simply location and convenience. Unlike your average cellar door, Dan Murphy's are located in central areas, that you're likely to frequent anyway. Far from having to drive an hour or two out of the city, it's likely that one of Dan Murphy's 163 locations, are close to you. In fact they're in all states except for Tassie and N.T. There's one in the CBD of Melbourne at Q.V. that's very popular.
Finally, there's a matter of ethics. When I go to a small, independent winery, I feel a bit guilty for tasting three or four wines, and buying nothing. Not so at a commercially successful conglomerate like Dan Murphy's.
I happily enter with no intention of buying. I taste, spit, taste, and swallow. I take friends, photos, and have a generally jolly time. I should confess that though I almost always go without any intention of buying anything, they often have a bargain I struggle to pass by.
Be warned: a free tasting of delicious wines can play havoc with a carefully planned budget. Or at least, it does if you have my level of will power.
They cleverly put on sale many of the wines that they give out free tastings of.
Now that I've finished telling you exactly what you should be doing after work this Friday, I want to make sure that you don't go away with the wrong idea: I'm a massive fan of winery visiting and cellar door service.
You certainly receive a lot more information, and interesting anecdotes when you speak to someone at the winery, and, if you're lucky, the winemaker themselves. If you get the chance, go away for the weekend, do a wine tour, stay overnight amongst the vines.
That said, you can't go away every weekend. When you've not had a better offer, make your own fun at Dan Murphy's.
Do NOT expect the same at BRIGHTON Dan Murphy's store. They display the bottles allegedly to be tasted but do not have any staff to provide any tastings. Staff changes have seen customer service fall through the floor at this store. Customers are made to feel conspicuous and guilty by standing at the unattended 'tasting table', looking interested and hopeful, until walking away because of no staff - no service - no tasting.