What is your favourite recipe you cook for yourself?
Chinese prawn omelette. It's the food for every mood. They're fast and furiously tasty and I live on them.
The one thing you always have in your fridge?
One thing? Hmmm. Inevitably there will be tubes of wasabi that date back to the palaeolithic period, so I guess that counts as 'always'.
If you could impart one piece of wine appreciation/education knowledge to everyone, what would it be?
Enjoy it, don't overthink it and definitely don't be a dick about it. Don't be constantly telling everyone how much you spent on that bottle or how large your cellar is, please.
What is the biggest mistake people make when serving wine?
Glasses glasses glasses! Ditch those awful, stumpy, RSA goblets and get yourself something that you can at least give the wine a decent swirl in. If you're using glasses that have just been bought from a shop or have been stored away for ages, please wash them with hot water to get rid of any 'cardboardy' smells (they've been cooped up in boxes for how long?) Glass absorbs musty odours from boxes, cabinets and stuffy rooms and you DON'T want that in your wine right?
What is your favourite food/wine pairing?
I can't even tell you how much I love gewürztraminer and Thai food. A glass of lychee-laden, ginger-edged, magically musky gewürz whilst tucking into a lovely larb...so so good. Big red wines and chilli will cause a car crash in your mouth, so if you're gunning for the Vindaloo, step away from the cabernet...
If you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay. No question.
Can you recall the moment when you knew you wanted to pursue a career in wine writing/judging?
It happened when I realised my total lack of talent in the maths and chemistry department would count me out of ever having a future in winemaking. I dusted myself off and figured hey, I really love wine, I'm half-decent at describing what I'm smelling and tasting AND I'm no slouch at stringing a sentence together, so what the heck. Let's have a crack at this writing gig. Now I lurch from deadline to deadline and haven't been out of overdraft since 1999. Heed my warning kids...
Your go-to dinner party meal?
Mussel soup from the Edmonds Cookbook - it rocks.
The one thing you always get asked?
Can I have your job?
What music, if any, do you like to listen to while cooking?
BEST question! I have to have music when I'm cooking and I'm very specific about it. Depending on my mood, I like to stream GeorgeFM and get all house party on it, or I'll lock into Linton Kwesi Johnson's Forces of Victory album or Inflammable Material by Stiff Little Fingers.If I have to concentrate on recipe reading then it's Paul's Boutique by the Beastie Boys all the way.
Your guilty pleasure?
Condensed milk. It's my drug of choice and I swear that stuff will be the death of me. Give me a teaspoon and whole can will disappear in a criminally short period of time.
In all your travels, where have you experienced the best wine (and what was it)?
Honestly, I need only drive a few kilometres in any direction of the compass from my own home, to experience what I believe to be the best wines in the world. I am incredibly lucky to live in Hastings, Hawke's Bay, (one of the world's ultimate wine regions) meaning on any given day I am literally just minutes away from a bottle of Clearview Endeavour Chardonnay, Te Mata Coleraine, Trinity Hill Homage or Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah. Please don't hate me...
Is there one cookbook you go back to time and time again?
Yes. The Book of Tripe. Nah, just jokes, tripe makes me heave. But it's only the stubborn under-stains holding my copies of 'Off the Shelf' by Donna Hay and 'Go Fish' by Al Brown together - so they're first equal for regular use...
You're currently craving?
Any advice to wine novices?
Practice, practice, practice. Taste everything you can and try to go a little deeper each time you sniff and sip. Does it smell fruity? Yes. Ok, so what kind of fruit? Citrus? Berries? Stonefruit? Pipfruit? Tropical fruit? Citrus. Ok, so would that be grapefruit? Lemon? Mandarin? Lime? Orange? Or is it spicy? Yes. Ok, what kind of spice? Pepper? Clove? Cocoa? Baking spices? - get my drift? It'll help you develop your own tasting language and have you sounding like a pro in no time.