Australian wine has been common in the United States for the past couple of years, garnering good reviews and filling up a lot of shelf space, especially on the bottom end. But wine from Down Under has its own way about it, a style that takes in much more than language differences (like calling the Syrah grape the Shiraz).


"Australian wines, because the climate is warm and not hot, are soft and very fruity, a kind of elegant style,” says Randy McLaughlin, the director of fine wines for Sigel’s ”They’re know for all that fresh fruit, and that makes them different from so many other places in the world.”


Keep these wines in mind the next time you want to go Australian:


• Tyrell’s Long Flat Red 1999 ($7). This is a red blend featuring the country’s trademark fruitiness. It’s an excellent every day wine that even goes well with some darker chicken dishes. Serve slightly chilled.


• Hermitage Road Cabernet Reserve 1998 ($13). An exceptional value, and one that demonstrates that Australia is about more $6 bottles of Shiraz. Serve it with beef at room temperature.


• Greg Norman Chardonnay 1998 ($15). Yes, that Greg Norman, who owns a piece of the company. But the wine is made by Wolf Blass, one of Australia’s leading vintners. Serve this white wine chilled for a fancy dinner; it’s rich, but not as buttery as a California Chardonnay.