Do you know who Molly Dooker is?

Even if you know this delicious brand of Australian wine, you may not know that Molly Dooker isn’t a “who.”  It’s a “what!”  Maybe the clue was that it’s all one word—Mollydooker.


About Mollydooker

Mollydooker is slang in Australia for a left-handed person, and the reason for the name is that many of the founders and their team were all southpaws!  I learned this, and more, at a recent tasting sponsored by Woodland Hills Wine Company, my go-to wine shop in Southern California. The evening was hosted by Luke Marquis, the charming and very funny son of founders Sparky and Sarah Marquis, who began producing wine in South Australia’s McLaren Vale in 1987.


I’d known of this wine for some time because I was always drawn to buy it due to its colorful labels and quirky names.  After all, who wouldn’t want to try a wine called Carnival Love that featured circus performers on the label?  Even the black-and-white label on Gigglepot intrigues me.


Is there a wine that makes you laugh?


A fun wine

Perhaps, but Sarah Marquis, who is the winemaker, produces amazing wines with great depth and structure that are no laughing matter.  She does, however, use some uncommon methods that I’ve not seen with other wines, domestic or Australian.

For example, how many wines do you shake before drinking?  Well, that’s what you do with Mollydooker wines, all of them except their Shiraz sparkling wine (for obvious reasons, such as not getting sprayed with your bubbles.)  Why?  Instead of adding those dreaded sulfites that most wineries are compelled to add as a preservative, Mollydooker preserves their wines with nitrogen. To release the nitrogen, you need to do the “Mollydooker Shake” before drinking.

How to do the Mollydooker Shake

It’s simple and fun.  You unscrew the top (because in Australia, they use screwtops instead of cork) and pour off a drop to get some space in the bottle. Then you put the cap back on, turn it upside down and give it a good shake, like you’d do if you were making a martini.  Open the bottle and see the nitrogen bubbles dissipate as they snap, crackle and pop.  Then re-cap the wine, turn it upside down again for another good shake, and you are ready to drink.  And, if you are feeling really playful, then tear off the perforated tab on the label, give a lick to the adhesive and stick it on your forehead—seriously!  That’s how everyone will know you’re the one who did the Mollydooker Shake.


Fruit Weight

Another idiosyncrasy of Mollydooker is how they measure the quality of their wines. Sarah invented a scale called “Fruit Weight,” which is how far back on your tongue you taste the smooth fruit of the wine.  A percentage is used, and to be called Mollydooker, a wine needs a minimum Fruit Weight of 55%. That means you start tasting the fruit when it’s a little more than halfway down your tongue.  Sort of another way of measuring what most wine people call the “finish.”

Every day wines, which they call Fun Wines, have a Fruit Weight of 55-65%.  The next category is called “Lefty’s,” and they range from 65-75%; the Family Wines range from 75-85%. Now we get into the top of the heap, the Love Wines at 85-95%, which includes Carnival of Love and its sister Enchanted Path. Only when they can produce a wine with a Fruit Weight of 95% or above do they produce their flagship wine, the Velvet Glove, which is every bit as velvety and smooth as its name.

And what about those wines with a Fruit Weight less than 55%?  Those are never Mollydooker.


The watering program

For you serious wine geeks out there, you’ll find Mollydooker’s watering program as upside down as you might imagine from a winery located Down Under.  Unless you’re in France or Italy, or another country where irrigation is forbidden, most wineries will add water during the early stages of the growing cycle.  Conventional wisdom is that this will stimulate the growth of the fruit.  That is true.

But Mollydooker turns this method on its head.  The water during canopy growth builds a nice protective cover.  By late spring, when the berries are in the reproductire stage, they reduce the water and let the soil dry out to that the canopy conserves energy.  As the fruit develops, Mollydooker resumes watering to send the vines back to the reproductive stage.  This results in the fruit gaining heft and changing color, allowing the vines to store extra energy.  When reproduction is at its peak, they stop watering, causing all of this stored energy (the sugar) to go back into the berries.  As a final touch, they turn the water on and off to control the release of energy into the fruit until it’s exactly right to harvest.

While you can absolutely purchase all of Mollydooker’s wine in the US, and Woodland Hills Wine, which ships nationwide is a great source, what could be more fun than visiting Mollydooker in Australia?


Visit Mollydooker

Those who booked Wine Lovers Travel’s Australia trip in December 2024, hosted by Brecon Estate, will get to visit this very special winery—or cellar door as they call it in Australia.


Although the trip is sold out, we are forming a waiting list and plan to do another trip in 2025.  For now, go out and buy a bottle of any of Mollydooker wines and do the Mollydooker Shake as you enjoy something really unique and delicious.