Jac and I went to UnWined WA on Saturday and enjoyed a brilliant day of Western Australian wine and food, sunshine and bright blue sky. The event was held at Market Square Park in Subiaco, between Subiaco train station and Paterson Stadium – just a 5-minute stroll from the station, with entry at Roberts Road.
For wine lovers, the set-up is perfect: your entry fee gets you a tasting glass and you are free to wander the stalls run by over 30 Western Australian wineries and taste as many wines as you like, with no pressure to purchase; if you’d like to buy wine to take home, you can take advantage of some excellent show specials. Regular readers will know I like my wine sweet – it was easy to seek out the sweeter varieties and focus my tasting on those. My favourites from the day were Happs Wines‘ White Fuschia, Mandalay Road‘s Sweet Lips Rosé and Wise Wine‘s Moscato. Jac, on the other hand, was on a viognier mission.
I dropped in briefly at the chardonnay appreciation class where the conversation was lively, with chuckles in between sips. The free wine appreciation classes were held twice each day, at 12pm and 2pm.
I was impressed with the water stations where Aussie Natural Spring Water was available for free to help keep the punters hydrated on what turned out to be a very warm day.
As the afternoon progressed, the crowds grew at the stalls, but the overwhelming people-crush that so often develops at food and wine festivals didn’t eventuate, thanks to well spaced stalls/walkways.
We thought there was a nice selection of food stalls and noted it was all freshly prepared, no junk food chains, no hot chips. We started our day with shak shuka, Moroccan breakfast eggs served in spicy tomato sauce, with homemade harissa (packs quite a punch, be warned!) and crusty bread. Chorizo is optional. I had a chat with Two Queens, who were cooking up a tapas storm, with a large pan of chilli-spiked patatas bravas, a roaring wood-fired oven and barbecue all on the go. We split a tapas share plate, with sardines, baguette, Brie, almonds, cornichons and lots of vegetables – chargrilled eggplant, capsicum and zucchini, marinated mushrooms and olives, and whole roasted garlic, and meaty morsels including a tender beef skewer, chicken chipolata and barbecued chorizo. Two Queens also sell fresh coconut juice for $5 – lift the lid of the giant coconut on wheels, pick a coconut and a hole will be drilled into it for you to stick a straw into. We shared a Romano pizza (tomato, cheese, sausage) from Il Paiolo Events Catering – the pizzas are cooked to order in the wood-fired oven and they made mine a heart-shaped one, “Made with love” (awww!).
I would’ve liked to have sampled everyone’s food but even I have my limits – I did manage to squeeze in one of my favourites, duck Jumplings – chewy gyoza-style dumplings served on shredded cabbage with dumpling master Roy’s special homemade ponzu and creamy sesame sauces, and a squirt of Kewpie mayo. An old-fashioned strawberry gelato cone from the Miss Tartufo van was perfect for the hot afternoon. Other ready-to-eat food stalls were Olé Paella, with two kinds of paella, mushroom and seafood, cooking in the most enormous paella pans I’ve ever seen; sticky pork ribs and cajun mushrooms from Ragin’ Cajun; gourmet hot dogs by Snags and Sons; and Creative Catering, with pulled pork sliders, wild mushroom and truffle pies and sundried tomato bocconcini arancini. There weren’t enough tables and chairs for everyone who wanted a seat, but there were plenty of shady spots on the lawn to sit comfortably on. Some people had thought ahead and brought their own picnic blankets. A hat and sunscreen are recommended, especially if you burn easily – you were in the blazing sun most of the day as you worked your way through the wines.
There were lots of free tastings from local food providers including Morish Nuts; olive oils, dukkahs, balsamic vinegars and marinades from Pukara Estate; truffle products from Great Southern Truffles, including amazing truffle sourdough baguette – don’t miss this if you love truffles and crusty, chewy bread – we ate ours on Sunday morning with plenty of butter and scrambled eggs; Just in Time Gourmet, with lots of gourmet products available individually or in gift packs; Gidge Gourmet fudge; chocolate-covered and filled dates by The Tasty Date; and curry pastes, chutneys, pickles and relishes from Goan Cuisine.
There were free cooking demonstrations twice daily, at 1pm and 3pm at the Buy West Eat Best stage – Saturday’s chefs Peter Manifis of Incontro restaurant in South Perth and Riki Kaspi, owner of Perth cooking school The Cooking Professor cooked with fresh WA produce and were assisted by chefs from the Royal Australian Navy, with local chef and WA food ambassador Don Hancey as MC.
We thought the performers who provided live music throughout the day were well chosen and added to the nice vibe of the event – it was impossible to not tap your feet or hum along. Mickey Shake took a break from easy-listening favourites to entertaining the kids with an interactive rendition of the Chicken Dance – note: children under 18 may attend for free but must be accompanied by a legal guardian.
Things we did to make the most of UnWined WA (advice for any wine festivals!)
- We caught the train – which meant no parking hassles and freedom to enjoy the wines without breaking drink driving laws.
- Put on sunscreen – that sun will sneak up on you. I spotted many lobstery shoulders on Saturday. As it was, I still ended up a little sun-blushed from the day. If you’re at the festival all day, you’ll probably need to put on a new layer of sunscreen later in the day.
- We wore comfy shoes – we were on our feet most of the time.
- Very important: we regularly visited the free water stations to keep well hydrated.
- We brought a sturdy bag for purchases and storing literature (brochures, business cards etc). If you have a strong partner who won’t object to being the pack-horse, all the better. Jac was my strong partner who carried the sturdy bag.
- We took notes on our favourite drops and where to find products beyond the show itself (or grabbed brochures with that information). If you don’t buy them at the time of tasting, take notes about the wines brands/vintages and food products you like – sounds really nerdy but you’ll kick yourself later when you struggle to remember the details.
- We would’ve done this if we’d remembered: if you’ve been to wine shows before and have one of those wine glass holders that you wear around your neck, don’t forget to bring it along. Much easier than carrying your glass in your hand all day – for me, very important to keep hands free for camera and social media activities. But since we forgot our wine glass holders, Jac kindly carried my glass for me in between tastings. And that’s another thing to consider – your choice of wine show companion is very important!
UnWined WA 2013 was really good fun, even for a wine-dabbler like me. With food and wine festivals all the rage and growing in popularity across Australia, it’s great to be able to support local events such as this, which showcase Western Australian wine and food. We sandgropers have a lot to eat and drink, appreciate and be proud of, right here in our wonderful state.
UnWined Western Australia 2013
Saturday, 26 October: 11am to 6pm
Sunday, 27 October: 11am to 5pm
Market Square Park, Subiaco
Tickets are $25 at the gate (were $20 pre-sale)
TFP attended UnWined 2013 as the event’s official food blogger with compliments of CMS Events.
If you’re on Facebook you can see more photos from UnWined WA at my Facebook page.