Many weeks ago I wrote about a disturbing phenomenon. In the space of little more than a month I attended six cocktail parties, one wedding, two dinner parties, three restaurant openings, a farewell luncheon, and had flown a round-trip on Ansett. On each of these occasions I was offered a choice of two wines, one white and one red. Each time I could have had anything I wanted, just as long as it was cabernet or chardonnay. The fact I have been a member of the ABC Club (Anything But Chardonnay) for some time has nothing to do with my annoyance. Honestly, I would have been equally irked by any two choices that were consistently, unimaginatively, boringly the same. We are being pushed into a rut with our wines. Many thousands of vineyards the world over are busy bottling a wonderful array of options. With a modicum of research you will find life beyond The Big Cs can be very rewarding indeed. Recently I was at a lunch in the sumptuous Garden Suite at The Peninsula. This room, with its fabulous vistas and stunning decor, is so beautiful they could have poured Ribena and got away with it. Yet they used a bit of savvy, steered clear of the terrible twins, and succeeded in delighting everyone in attendance. Their selections, a Sancerre 'Comte Lafond' 1996 from P de Ladoucette and a Beaune 1er Louis Latour 1995, were excellent choices. The Sancerre was cool, crisp, fragrant, fresh and an ideal partner with our lemon sole fillets. The Beaune surprised a number of us at the table. Its clear, light rosy colour did nothing to prepare our palates for its distinctive, flowery, elegant aroma and long-luscious finish. So how much for these two winners? The Sancerre is $520 by the bottle on The Peninsula's wine list, the Beaune, $580. But then again, perfection does not come cheap (although it does come a bit cheaper in a wine shop).