reviews, recommendations, recipes, and The Bar Project

Review: The Little Penguin Shiraz

Posted by dave

The Little Penguin

Having left a newly opened bottle uncorked overnight, I, with heavy heart, did dump the oxygenated contents down the drain. Then, with renewed bounce in my step did I turn around and grab another bottle of The Little Penguin Shiraz, pop open the cork, and pour myself a hearty glass. I have been waiting to start reviews on this site at least partially in anticipation of getting to review this very wine. Friends will laugh when they see this review, having been on the receiving end of many a product pitch for this wine, as if I were a ward of the Australian wine company myself. I am not, but will try to sell you on this wine anyway, just because I like it so much.

The Bottle!

From Down Under

Australia is of course most famous (in the North East, anyway) for the Yellow Tail assortment of wines. Say Australian, and most people will immediately think of Yellow Tail.

Of course, that’s not to say it’s the only wine from Australia – most liquor stores will have a decent selection of Australian wines.

But I urge you to try The Little Penguin Shiraz. My friends, it is a treat. I am myself more of a fan of red wines than white, but this is one I appreciate wholly unto itself, without need to compare it to anything else.

Served at room temperature (it’s a red, did I mention that?) it almost feels cool on your tongue – but warms you as it goes down, as does all good alcohol. My untrained palette tastes cherries or maybe strawberries – I’m not sure.

What I do know is that it goes down easily and doesn’t come back to haunt you. The complete lack of an aftertaste is what makes it appeal to so many who have tried it (after my badgering them to do so.) Some heavier or smokier wines may have a secondary flavor of wood or smoke, which many mistake for an aftertaste. Some other wines just have a bad aftertaste. However, here the complete lack of a secondary flavor of any sort allows you to enjoy the original flavor for a decent amount of time.

* Sip… continue. *

It’s odd to say something could be both peppery and sweet at the same time, but The Little Penguin Shiraz seems to pull it off. The first thought is to the fruits underlying the flavor, but the afterthought is to the little kick it has hidden in a sweet package. It’s also odd that the aroma of the wine is completely different than the flavor. The smell gives you the pepper, but the drink itself masks that quite well in more fruit flavors, keeping it from being an overpowering (and thus detrimental) feature.

That all said, it’s a relatively dry wine, but one that won’t offend those who prefer a bit more of a fruit to their drink.

So there it is – the first review and my personal favorite wine. I’ve tried to be as pompous as possible in my rhetoric – just because I said I wouldn’t – but what I’ve written is truly the taste I’ve come to understand. Personally, I’ve started buying this wine by the case – just to keep up with the dinners to which we bring a bottle plus that which we consume at home. All that wonderfulness, and a bottle can be had for under $10. Its distribution is far from ubiquitous, but those who have found a local distributor often keep this wine out of stock.

I also urge you to try their others, including the Merlot (I’ve had, is good) and I’ve been hearing buzz about their white shiraz as well, although I’ve yet to taste it. Perhaps fodder for another review some time.

So off my friends, to a store that carries this magnificent wine. I’m done raving, and now I’m going to go watch some Adult Swim on Cartoon Network and sip some Little Penguin Shiraz. Gotta love the wine… and gotta love that label!


Posted in Australian, Red Wine


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  1. Da Vinci 2005 Chianti » The Bar Project Project

    […] Here’s what it is I do like – it’s smooth and cool and bites back just a tiny bit. It’s not afraid of itself, and I’m not afraid of it. At $11, this is a table wine that now frequents our little condo. It’s not as full-bodied as the previously reviewed Rufino Aziano, nor as sweet as the also previously reviewed Little Penguin Shiraz. But then again, it’s not a Shiraz, so the comparison may not be fair. […]

  2. Wine Drinkers, what is the best least expensive wine you've had? - Beers, wines, and spirits - Page 4 - City-Data Forum

    […] I really like Little Penguin wines. $5.99 for 750 ml or $9.99 for 1.5 L. Their Shiraz is especially good & I believe Shiraz is the type of wine Australia is known for. I also like Barefoot – Merlot. I've tried 3 buck chuck at Trader Joes & I had trouble getting it down.…penguin-shiraz […]

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  1. coaxial said:

    So far I’ve found everything from the little penguin label is extremely good, especially for the price. This lends more to the fact that austrailians make the best wine, my current three favorite labels are the little penguin, yellowtail, and wolf blass.

  2. Deron Dantzler said:

    Just polished off a bottle of this shiraz tonight. It does have quite a pungent odor, which makes you expect quite a different taste. It’s a very fruity wine and quite decent for a grocery store purchase.

    Suggest served room temperature.

    Another cheap wine you can’t go wrong with is the Kendall Jackson brand.

  3. Tracy said:

    We have a store in the area (Vermont) called Cheese Traders. They were selling the 2005 Little Penguin White Shiraz for $1.99 a bottle – 10% off if you bought a whole case. For that price, I’m usually game.

    I’m actually surprised. The White Shiraz is a delightful wine. Fruity, a little sweet, but not overly so, with a great bite (it’s 12% and goes down smooth so you may want to watch it.) My mom, sister-in-law, and I sat down with a bottle. Before we knew it, we’d worked our way through all four bottles – hence the trip to purchase a whole case.

    If you haven’t tried the White Shiraz, it’s definitely worth it! Especially at the price I managed to steal it for.

  4. Ian said:

    *Yawn* in a world of great wine, why bother with kool-aid…. please

  5. dave said:

    Why, because it tastes good, and is extremely affordable. When you go through wine like I do, you like to have some favorites that you can pick up for under $10.

    If I could afford Stag’s Leap at 3-4 bottles a week I might be more inclined to purchase that than this, but for under $10 – what’s wrong with a decent table wine?

  6. Tammy said:

    I also liked this. I wish it was on sale more often at my grocery store. I tend to try to stay under $6 for my cheapo grocery wine, and this is usually just a tad higher than that.

  7. Michael said:

    When are you Americans going to learn that everything Australian is just /so good/? :)
    I don’t know if they’re exported specifically, but see if you can get your hands on Coonawarra, Jamieson’s Run, T’Gallant, Jacob’s Creek and Penfolds. Some of my favourites, in no particular order, and no particular price scale.

  8. dave said:

    Michael: Jacob’s Creek is one we frequent, and I’ve had Coonawarra, but not sure if it was sold here or brought to me by a friend from Australia.

    I agree whole-heartedly though – it’s good wine :)

  9. Kirsi Bertolini said:

    Great review, I just had some last night and absolutely love it!

  10. dinah moe said:

    as a beer drinker recently turned wino, i can honestly say that little penguin shiraz is the only wine i’ve ever purchased. i had a glass of shiraz at a party, and i didn’t get a wine headache, so i went out the next day, bought a bottle of bottom shelf sale wine ($6.99), braced myself for the inevitable wine headache, and came out fine, with knowledge of a super delicious cheap beverage. i don’t know wine, but this is just good to drink. spicy and heavy, and not obnoxiously sweet. the %alc. of wine kinda gets me, as beer doesn’t quite incapacitate one as effectively, but i’m willing to practice, y’know?

  11. Fancy said:

    *yawn* why bother with condescencion.

  12. Tracy said:

    I had a bottle bought for me by my Aunty. We had tried a red wine a week before with another sort of animal on the label. My Aunt thought it was this one but it wasn’t. Well! WHEN WE TASTED IT WE WERE SO SURPRISED. We have been on the net trying to find out how much she paid for it as we will be buying another bottle at least. Great wine X

  13. dragonbaby said:

    I love Little Penguin Shiraz for the very reasons you stated. Very tasty and I enjoy the peppery bite on top of the full flavor. I would suggest you also try their Shiraz-Cab blend as it is also very tasty.

    I have come to find the Australian wines to be quite wonderful. Jacob’s Creek, The Tall Horse, Black Swan. In addition to these one of my favorites is Rosemount Estates. They offer a wonderful Shiraz and a Shiraz-Cab blend. They are definitely worth a try too.

  14. dclark said:

    A bartender in southern Florida told me about The Little Penguin Wine about 16 months ago, and I have been hooked ever since. One of my personal favorites is the Cab-Shiraz blend, but I enjoy all of the reds. I do enjoy several other (more expensive) wines, but for the money, this is the one I go for as a regular table wine.

    One of my personal fav’s, near $20 is Murphy-Goode. Can’t go wrong with this one on date night!!

  15. pm said:

    Little Penguin Shiraz is a wonderful wine. Like another commenter, I too worry about the “wine headache”. If I find a wine that doesn’t give me a headache, I remember it. Little Penguin Shiraz doesn’t hurt my head, and it tastes smooth, rich and sweet. I love it!

  16. Jeannemarie said:

    My husband and I agree wholeheartedly. We are off to buy a case asap.

  17. KandiLou said:

    Tonight was my first night with the Little Penguin. I stumbled upon it simply because it’s price was great and I adore Shiraz. What a delightful surprise! Wonderful wine, wonderful price.

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