It would be nice, wouldn't it, if there was a place in the world where you could live in a city that was blessed with a lovely climate, endless kilometres of sunny beach 20 minutes drive from your house, and approximately four hundred wineries within an hour of the city.

Oh, hang on, there is: Adelaide.


But since you poor sods aren't here, you'll have to buy your wine from the trusty bottle-o instead of the cellar doors themselves. And that means you'll need someone on the inside. What else are you going to do? Go to some stranger on the internet for advice?

To overcome this problem, I've got some great advice after the jump.

1- Avoid the franchise bottle shops unless you're buying something you know or you're buying something cheap.

2- Find a cool local bottle shop that is run by one of the following characters: an overweight man with a thick beard who will always encourage you to taste a glass (and help himself to one too); an artsy woman who wears long scarves and kaftans; or a young couple who finish each others' sentences.

3- It is essential that the store has at least one of the following: handwritten labels on selected bottles saying things like "this one's like a seriously good kick in the pants", or "Tyre Fire Joe (our old neighbour) always drunk this with scallops and tarragon, give it a try!"; a store pet that idly wanders the aisles and approaches customers for attention; employees who don't wear a uniform and who won't drop everything to help you (they're your mates, not your servants); or a table out the front where the owner can always be found chatting to a variety of fun and fascinating individuals.

4- The music can be either: crackly old 78s playing anything from 20s big band swing to 40s bebop; marvelous and mysterious world music that changes every time you're there (African drums to Brazilian tango to Indian tablas); or CDs by local singer-songwriter types. If you ever hear Kenny G you must leave immediately.

Once you've found such a place, it's time to make use of it. Chat to the people there, ask what they recommend to go with dinner tonight, or what the best deal is for some old cab sav, or that you've always wanted to get more into whites and don't know where to start. Every bottle shop I've been to that fits the above criteria will have someone there who genuinely enjoys sharing their joy and knowlege with others. So make the most of it!

Just don't listen to those random strangers on the internet, for heaven's sake.

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