Jason Miller is one of the lucky ones – he gets to taste wine for a living and share his love of it with people on his tours. We talk to him about his passion for his craft as one of Australia’s best wine and food guides.
Please tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
I’m Jason Miller and I get paid to drink wine. Or more specifically to taste wine and to talk about it. I run a food and wine tour company called Rich & Lingering, which covers South Australia. Being based in Adelaide we are surrounded by wine regions, so one of the great joys I have is to be able to show visitors our regions, and also our wine and our food.
In my spare time I also write about Australian wine on a wine blog called Que Syrah, provide wine reviews and have also worked as a wine judge.
What made you passionate about wine and what do you find most interesting about it?
Having always been a foodie, wine is just part of that broader experience. Good wine is essential to good food. In fact I’m sure that wine is one of the four main food groups; along with chocolate, cheese and something else.
What I love most about it, is no matter how much you know, how far you have travelled, there is always something more to learn. It’s a never ending voyage of discovery. There always seems to be new varieties, new regions, and new vintages.
How do you bring wine to life on your tours?
I’m lucky enough to have various wine qualifications, and to have tasted many great wines. But when you travel there is always that ‘ah ha!’ moment when you visit a location and the product make sense given that context.
I love being able to help my guests interpret that context, to discover the intricacies and the influences of wine and food. This comes from the location, the people and their history. Wine at its most basic is fermented grapes. But what make it even more interesting is to understand the history and the culture of the people who made it. How they were influenced by their location, their climate, and their way of life.
Why do you think it’s important that people learn about wine?
Unfortunately with wine there is often an aura of mystery that surrounds it. As people learn about anything (including wine) they are less hesitant. I’m all for making a product more approachable, and more understandable.
If people wanted to find out more about the North of Australia are there any particular books, documentaries or websites you would recommend?
There are many books and movies for a broad audience, from the complete novice through to official ‘cork dorks’ like myself. There’s also plenty of wine blogs, like Que Syrah. But really the best piece of wine advice I was ever given was to ‘taste promiscuously’. Not necessary drink a lot, just tasting a broad range of things. Wines you have never heard of before, regions you can’t pronounce, countries you have never visited. This ultimately helps to develop your palate.
What’s your favourite Australian animal and why?
The echidna; I know very little about them but have been lucky enough to come across them in the wild occasionally. The whole idea of a mammal, which lays eggs, and has quills is pretty amazing and something you would only find in Australia.
What place is Australia’s best-kept secret?
Flinders Ranges (especially Arkaba Homestead). An amazing location to enjoy the landscape, the climate, the wildlife, the stars and the vastness of Australia.
What haven’t you seen / done in Australia that you’d like to and why?
There is so much on my ever growing list. I would love to visit the far north of Australia – in both the wet and dry seasons. I would love to swim with the whale sharks at Ningaloo. At the other end of the country I can’t wait to explore the breadth of Tasmania. The wine and the produce of Tasmania are sensational. But I would love to understand it more – their influences, their climate and the location.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that hasn’t been covered by the questions already posed?
There’s an important difference between tasting and drinking.
Finally, how can people follow you on social media?
Rich & Lingering