NZ Wines: What you Need to Know

NZ Wines: What you Need to Know

January 16, 2018

How could we start introducing you to wines of the world, without recognising the incredible stuff we produce right here in our backyard?! Many people who drink the occasional wine might be aware of typical NZ regions or wine varieties, but we thought we’d pull together the definitive guide to Kiwi wines, as it’s true that we do have some of the best in the world. Bottle Service, being a NZ owned and run business, also supports local NZ producers, suppliers and distributors, so it’s worthwhile supporting our own incredible industry here whenever we get the chance.

So, what’s what in the world of local Kiwi wines?

First things first: our Sav Blanc is pretty bloody great

It all started in the 1980s when local wineries in New Zealand, especially in Marlborough on the South Island, began producing Sauvignon Blanc that, according to well-known international critics, was outstanding. Sav Blanc does so well in our climate in fact, that it’s set the international benchmark for the wine. Such is the demand for our Sav Blanc that it now accounts for 72% of all NZ wine production, and makes up a whopping 86% of our wine export market. Look, we know a good thing when we see it, and in the case of Marlborough, it’s hard to go wrong.

Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect match to fresh seafood flavours, and enhances citrus or garlic sauces. It also goes well with crunchy summer salads - especially if you throw in a capsicum. In fact, other tangy foods, such as tomatoes and vinegar dressings, are also ideal.

We are also fond of a great Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is predominantly grown in the cooler southerly regions:  Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, Canterbury & Waipara, and notably, Central Otago. Despite only accounting for around 10% of NZ wine production, our Pinot Noirs are known for their depth and complexity - and tend to be ‘richer’ and more tannic than other countries’. The most popular red grape we plant here, Pinot Noir is second only to Sauvignon Blanc in terms of production volume.

Regional differences (climate, soil, production methods) account for some decent variations in the end product. Because of this, NZ Pinot Noir complements a wide range of savoury dishes, including gamey birds such as quail, turkey, and duck. If poultry isn’t your cup of tea, try it with locally caught salmon. or with pork, veal, lamb or venison.

And we do love our bubbles

We produce some excellent local sparkling wines here in New Zealand, chiefly in Marlborough, and it’s well worth noting (and tasting!) those. Richer tasting sparkling wines are produced in the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne regions, but often wines from both the North and South Islands are blended to achieve the ideal balance of this richness and structure.

Regions and varietals

New Zealand’s incredible diversity means different wines are grown across the country, according to which varietals work best with the climate and land. The notable regions and their most well-known varietals are below, in case you are on the road and feeling adventurous!

  • Auckland (and Waiheke Island) - red blends, Chardonnay
  • Bay of Plenty - Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc
  • Canterbury - Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir
  • Central Otago - Pinot Noir
  • Gisborne - Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, sparkling
  • Hawke’s Bay - red blends, Syrah, dessert wines
  • Marlborough - Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir
  • Nelson - Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir
  • Northland - Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Viognier
  • Waikato - Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc
  • Wairarapa - Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc


We are very lucky here in New Zealand that we don’t really need to go far at all to grab an excellent bottle of wine, or settle in for a long lunch at a cellar door… something you should definitely make time for, if you haven’t yet explored what’s in your own region and on your doorstep.


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