When it comes to relaxing after a day at work, little comes close to sitting back in your favourite armchair with a fine glass of red. Additionally, numerous scientific studies have found that, in moderation, a smidgen of claret can even be beneficial for our health.
Indeed, according to the Victorian government's Better Health Channel, a polyphenol compound found in red wine, known as resveratrol, can help prevent blood clots, lower the level of damaging low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the blood (the bad kind of cholesterol, of course!) and even reduce damage to blood vessels.
Additionally, Mayo Clinic states that other antioxidants present in red wine can markedly improve heart health, as they can enrich the lining of the blood vessels in our hearts. What's more, a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that extracts from Pinot Noir grapes can also assist with weight loss. How? Well, the ellagic acids present in these specific grapes were found to delay the growth of fat cells in test subjects.
A land of wine
Australia is home to some of the finest wine regions on the planet, and as a doctor living in the land Down Under, why not pay a visit to some of these scenic vineyards that lie on your doorstep? Some are found under sky-piercing mountains, others in verdant valleys criss-crossed with sparkling streams.
If anything, you can say that you are visiting in the name of science, so take a break from your permanent or locum job as a GP and sample some of the finest vinos Australia has to offer at one (or all!) of these three beautiful wine regions – bottom's up!
Barossa Valley, South Australia
Home to world-famous wines and award-winning blends, the Barossa Valley is globally regarded as one of the planet's premier wine regions due to the quality of its near-perfect terroir.
The climate, soil and earthy quality of the valley combine for truly excellent grape-growing conditions, meaning that any wines you sample here are bound to be of superb quality. With over 80 cellar doors and 150 wineries dotted throughout the area, there truly are a myriad of different vinos to try from delicate, light roses to deep, full-bodied Shiraz.
These bountiful vineyards are located in close proximity to one another, making it easy to hop from one to the next. To really get amongst the beauty of the area, you should consider hiring a bicycle. This will allow you to freely ride through the picturesque country lanes and cross rustic stone bridges at your leisure – bliss.
Don't leave without sampling a selection of fortified wines, which are often called 'liquid sunshine' – the Barossa Valley is famous for this variety. Additionally, make sure that you visit the heritage, historic vineyards of Langmeil Winery and Seppeltsfield Wines.
The former is renowned for its Freedom Shiraz, a truly luxurious indulgence for your palette, since the beverage is concocted using the grapes of 160-year-old vines.
The latter also has a rich history, founded back in 1851 and, to this day, serving its iconic Para Port – over 100 years old and just as magnificent today as it was decades prior.
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Of all of Australia's beautiful array of vineyards, it is perhaps the selection of those in Victoria's Yarra Valley that are the most wonderfully varied. The vines planted here are among the oldest in all of Australia, with the earliest dating back to 1838 and, since then, the region has gone from strength to strength.
This cool-climate region is just a short trip from Melbourne, and is home to over 70 distinct wineries. Some of Australia's best-known labels make their home in the Yarra Valley, such as TarraWarra Estate and De Bortoli – vinos which would not look out of place in the most prestigious of fine wine cellars.
Perhaps you'll be attracted to the intriguingly named Badger's Brook Winery, an estate that specialises in low-yielding Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Established in 1993, Badger's Brook is a small, respected winery, with vines that date back to 1989. Some of its wines are created for cellaring, to be opened only for a special occasion, whereas other are better suited for immediate drinking – it's completely up to you!
Other well-regarded wineries in the area include Coldstream Hills, Oakridge Wines and Yering Station. The latter was Victoria's first vineyard, found just an hour's drive from Melbourne, and is home to a fantastic restaurant – more on that later!
It's not just the established names to be found in the Yarra Valley, though. New innovators, such as Sticks and Mandala, continue to delight wine lovers the world over, and visiting these cellar doors is a real experience for the senses.
A glass of the good stuff is grand enough by itself, but why not pair it with a meal from one of the fine eateries dotted around the region? The restaurants of the Yarra Valley, such as Domaine Chandon Winery and Restaurant Yarra Valley, as well as the Wine Bar Restaurant at Yering Station, take great pride in using local ingredients sourced from the fertile fields of the area, so you know that when you sit down to your finely-cooked meal, it's going to be just divine.
Several well-regarded chefs have set up restaurants in the Yarra Valley – one of these is Teage Ezard, who cooks up a storm at Levantine Hill. With a number of culinary awards to his name, Chef Ezard has prepared an eight-course degustation menu that he calls Modern Australian.
According to the Good Food Guide, this style refers to 'a mixture of fusion food coming together, a combination of those different flavours and cooking techniques on the one plate. When paired with the fine array of wines at the restaurant, this is a gastronomy experience that you're never likely to forget.
Margaret River, Western Australia
Ever since the first commercial vineyard planting took place here in the 1960s, Margaret River has blossomed to become a premier wine destination with globally admired vignerons. More than 95 cellar doors await you amidst charming coastlines and rustic farmland.
Though Western Australia can sometimes be overlooked when thinking of great Aussie wine regions, the truth is, more than 15 per cent of Australia's premium wines all originate here, according to Western Australia's official tourism website. With well over 200 vineyards to visit, you'll be spoiled for choice as you scan the landscape in front of you.
How about something a little different? Stella Bella Wines is small in size, but it it takes a modern, creative take on traditional winemaking techniques, using a range of fine red varietals. Stella Bella means 'beautiful star' and that's precisely what you'll be gazing upon as you partake in a glass under the inky-blackness of the Western Australian night sky.
The Leeuwin Estate is also famed for its red output, but, each year, thousands of revellers descend upon the winery for its annual concert. Big names such as Chris Isaak, Diana Ross and Sting have all graced the stage here – what could be better than enjoying a glass of wine, in a vineyard, at a live music event?
Get a taste for more than just red vino by visiting the Wine Tourism Showroom at the Margaret River Visitor Centre, immersing yourself in the histories of these vineyards and their unique flavours.
Nearby lie tall-timber forests, ancient caves, shimmering beaches and top surf spots too if you'd like to balance your wine experiences with hikes or adventures through nature.