Imagine a wine event that’s … fun. You don’t have a pencil in your hand. You’re not racking your brain for clever things to say on brightness or salinity. You can just say, “Yum. Can I have more?”

Pinot Palooza is back this Saturday for its fifth and biggest year yet. A wine party celebrating pinot noir, the one-day festival features DJs, great food and more than 100 wine producers.

We chat to Dan Sims, the event’s organiser and founder of Bottle Shop Concepts, about why you should get a whole lot of pinot into your life this weekend.

Broadsheet: What is Pinot Palooza? Why can't I just drink alone at home with my James Halliday Wine Companion?
Dan Sims: Personally I can’t think of anything worse than sitting alone reading a wine book (unless of course you need to fall asleep). Pinot Palooza is one heck of a pinot party. We’re now in our fifth year and the event has grown and grown to six cities and two countries.

In short, it’s just a wine tasting … but not your normal boring-arse one. Fun first, facts second, delivered in a much more social environment. Plus reading a bunch of wine ratings doesn’t give you context or a connection to the producer. This way you meet them first hand. (Let’s face it, pretty much all wineries are either five-star rated or 95 points – yawn.)

BS: Why dedicate a whole festival to one style of wine? Isn't that boring?
DS: Why not! Pinot is awesome! It’s like saying why have a festival about salumi, gin … you name it. This way you get to really get your head around the variety and its various styles. Other wine events are like a scattergun approach; throwing all the different regions and varieties at you hoping something sticks. This way you narrow the bandwidth and focus on just how good and how varied pinot noir can be.

BS: I don't know much about wine. Do I belong here?
DS: YES! And I stress it in CAPS. I’d like to think we have a no-bullshit approach to wine. All we ask is you find your favourite on the day. That’s it. We’re not trying to drag you into master classes or bamboozle you with wine-making bullshit. We just want you to get an understanding of what you like. Saying that, if you want to geek out, go for it! It’s just not our default setting.

BS: "I can't stand pinot noir", someone says. Tell them why they're wrong.
DS: If you can’t stand pinot then probably don’t come! But don’t worry, we’ll be there when you grow up (ahem). All jokes aside, there are so many styles of pinot I am sure you’ll find one you like. From the lighter, more ethereal, to the full-charged, full flavoured, and everything in-between. That’s the cool thing about pinot. What someone likes is often the reason why someone else hates it, and vice versa.

BS: What goes down on the day?
DS: Pretty simple really. Rocking tunes (DJ Greg Sara), awesome food, 170 wines on tasting from 67 producers (from Australia and New Zealand) and one epic Plumm glass to taste from and take home. Just come, grab your glass and go. The line-up of pinot noir producers really does represent the best of Australia and New Zealand. To have them all under the one roof is not only a rare, but a great opportunity.

BS: Can I eat stuff there?
DS: The line-up this year is huge. Veterans Burn City Smokers are joined by Ladro and Belle’s Hot Chicken. Yarra Valley Dairy is doing cheese and the legends at Meatsmith are taking care of all of the smallgoods (rumour has it Troy the butcher will be joined by the man himself, Andrew McConnell). Plus, we have SAMPLE brew and Gippsland Cider Co if you’re looking for a cleanser.

Pinot Palooza is this Saturday October 15 from 1pm–6pm, at Town Square Pavilion, Melbourne Showgrounds.

Tickets available at