Passion for Fine Wines as Told by Katrin Stoelen's

Hamilton Harbour Sense of Taste manager Katrin Stoelen’s passion for fine wine was ignited as a child, sitting around the family dining table with her parents and grandparents.

Katrin grew up in a big house in the Belgian town of Lier – only 300km from the famous French wine region Champagne.

In her words, “why buy from the liquor store when we could drive to Champagne’’. Katrin also recalls trips to Burgundy and Bordeaux where her parents would buy their wine direct from the vineyards.

“I learnt about wines from a very young age,’’ Katrin says. “We would sit around the table, talking about wine, and in those days we didn’t wait until we were 18 to have a sip.

“We lived in a big house with my grandparents and my grandfather was a red wine lover. I remember talking to him about it a lot.

“I’ve done the same with my kids, introduced them to wines when they were younger and they grew up learning about different varieties and styles.’’

Katrin’s other grandfather enjoyed a Trappist beer – made by Belgian Trappist monks - every afternoon. Keen to learn more about Trappist beer, I turn to Wikipedia.

As of January this year, there were 14 Trappist monasteries that have beers named after them – six in Belgium, two in The Netherlands and one each in Austria, Italy, France, Spain, England and the United States.

There are very strict guidelines around producing Trappist beer. All products must be made within the immediate surrounds of the abbey, production must be carried out under the supervision of the monks or nuns and profits are intended for the needs of the monastic community or for development projects and charitable works.

Hamilton Sense of Taste stocks the classic Belgian Trappist blond ale Orval ($16.99). It’s golden orange in colour, with a fluffy white head. It has an intensely aromatic and dry character. Pour it slowly, drink it slowly, recommends Katrin.

The Orval brewery, in the Gaume region of Belgium, opens its doors to the public only twice a year and there are around 32 secular workers.

Katrin and her husband relocated to Coolum, on the Sunshine Coast, in 1988 and for 25 years had a wine exporting business, sending Australian wines back to Belgium. They moved to Brisbane four years ago.

“I used to walk past this Sense of Taste store and say to my husband I want to work there,’’ Katrin says. “Sense of Taste is 70 percent about wine, and that’s what I really liked about it.’’ Hamilton Sense of Taste has a great selection of international wines, but there’s always room for more, says Katrin.

Katrin has a fondness for rosé, especially French, and is hosting a rosé wine tasting outside the Hamilton Harbour store on Saturday, December 3.

A selection of around 20-25 rosés will be available for tasting, from Australia, France, New Zealand and Spain. Wine reps will be on hand to discuss the various styles.

The tasting is from 3-6pm and one lucky attendee will win a 3L bottle of rosé. All the styles on the tasting tables will be available for purchase.

Please register to attend by emailing:


Don’t forget to get your ticket to the Sense of Taste Tarragindi Wine Fair on Saturday, November 19, at Wellers Hill Bowls Club.

An extensive range of wines, Champagne and sparklings from award-winning local and international brands will be available to taste and purchase, at great prices.

Tickets are $40 and there will be lucky door prizes and giveaways throughout the afternoon. The wine fair is from 2-5pm, and food trucks will be on site.

Purchase your ticket via