IF you were a grower or a winemaker prepared to take a punt on a just-conducted survey of our wine-drinking habits, you'd be chopping out your Chardonnay, swooning over your Sauvignon Blanc, and planting Pinot Noir.
The survey, amongst guests and diners at Mercure Hotels' 23-properties across Australia, found drinkers were turning off Chardonnay in their droves – making it the fastest-declining white variety in the popularity stakes.
By comparison, sales of Sauvignon Blanc through the Mercure Groups' restaurants and bars increased 47% over the past two years, and while Shiraz was the overwhelmingly most popular red in the same period (followed closely by Cabernet blends,) the fastest-growing red wine of choice was Pinot Noir.
And probably not surprisingly the survey found New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc leading the field in popularity, but with Aussie labels catching up as diners seek out local food-friendly wines – something Sauvignon Blanc certainly is.
Riesling was another variety to take a hammering in the survey, and interest-ingly it was women leading the charge on Sauvignon Blanc (as well as better sparklings and lighter reds.) A majority of men still preferred reds to whites.
ONE FOR LUNCH: In our own tasting of Aussie-made Sauvignon Blanc, we gave our thumbs-up for Best Value For Money to Westend's 2009 Richland from the Riverina – a nicely full-bodied and richly textured wine with loads of tropical fruit flavours, a dry crisp finish and a hard-to-beat $11.99 price tag.
Best Food Match: Logan Wines' 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Orange – plenty of zingy lime, pink grapefruit, green mango and minerality ($22;) Best Party Room SB: Wicks Estate Adelaide Hills 2009 – an $18 beauty of a quaffer with herbaceous and tropical fruit flavours; Best Value Import: The Crossing 2008 SB from New Zealand's Marlborough, an undeniable ripper at $16.99.
Enjoy all these wines with shellfish, Asian stir fries or stronger cheeses.
(NEED A FOOD/DRINK IDEA? Check out http://www.vintnews.com )
 THUMBS-up for Best Value For Money local Sauvignon Blanc
 GREAT food match – particularly shellfish, Asian stir fries and strong cheeses