SOME folk entered the world of wine appreciation via the likes of Blue Nun or Tiger Milk but for me it was a bottle of Australian shiraz that caught my attention. I was in a pub in Prestwick when serving as a Naval Airman in 1983 and the landlord was offering people a taste of this radical new wine from the land down under.

Up until then, my tipple was lager or if I was absolutely forced, a shot of rum so this dark, seductive liquid with an aroma the likes of which lager can only dream of was a world changer for me.

Since then, shiraz or syrah as it’s also known, has been a benchmark on which I've measured many vineyards because unlike merlot which you have to be a plonker to get wrong, shiraz needs a bit of concentration. Too much sun and the grapes can be overpowering, too little and the wine is way too peppery. Too much oak burns the taste a tad, and too little leaves the wine quite thin.

When the winemaker gets it right, however, you can expect ripe succulent autumn fruits, a waxy, almost fat palate, hints of spice and even a touch of that lovely smell you get off an old leather sofa. Thankfully, the world is awash with wine makers getting it right.

The Californians and of late the Chileans are producing some sublime examples if you like it ultra smooth while the South Africans give it a furry palate that's ideal for food pairing. If you like your flavours intense and distinct then Australia is still leading the pack folks.

Bramble Lane Shiraz, Australia

A gorgeous wine for the price with warm spicy autumn fruits on the nose and a rich palate of well-integrated fruit and tannins. The finish is long.

The Good Spirits Co, Glasgow £11.20

McPhersons Shiraz, Australia

If Mcphersons ever make a bad wine then I’ll eat my hat. Soft, brambly blackcurrants and warm plums with a gentle hint of spice on the finish. Gorgeous.

Oddbins £10.50