How to get back in the good books with your girlfriend

BEN GROUNDWATER
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2014
Mornington Peninsula
Andrew Chapman

ALL BETTER NOW: Montalto Winery on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.

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In case you were wondering, here's how you make things better.

Let's just say, on a purely hypothetical basis, that you've upset your girlfriend, or your boyfriend, or your spouse, or your significant other, and you need to right the ledger. (Hypothetically, right?) Brownie points need to be earned. Sucking up needs to be done. Good books need to be wormed back into.

Then you might find yourself here, at a car hire place, splashing out on the very cheapest, most hilariously tiny hatchback. It's just for the day, I figure, so it doesn't have to be too impressive. It doesn't matter that it's smaller than most motorbikes - it's where this car will take us that really counts.

My girlfriend doesn't bat an eyelid. She gets in, flips the radio to Triple J, and we're away.

In order to regain entry into good books, you first have to know what appeals to the owner of those books. Some people would probably enjoy a trip to the beach. Others might want to be taken to the movies. This car, however, is going to be pointed south-east, towards Australia's Mornington Peninsula, and the vine-based riches it possesses.

In order to regain entry into good books, you also have to know where you're going. Or have an in-car GPS. We've made it as far as the town of Mornington before there's a turn-off and a slight directional issue.

"Left at the roundabout, or right?"

"Um ... Right. Oh wait ... Left. Yep, left. Um ... Why did you go right?"

A quick U-turn and things are sorted, and pretty soon we've called into the day's first destination: Foxeys Hangout.

Today is to be a day of joy and indulgence, or at least that's the plan. Wine will be tasted. In my case, as the driver, it was also be spat out. Views of vines will be enjoyed. An expensive lunch will be devoured. Bottles will be purchased. And hopefully, after all of that, everything will be right with the world.

Not bad for a short day out.

Foxeys Hangout is the first port of call purely because it's the closest to the highway and it appears to sell wine. It ticks all the boxes. It's a week day today, so the crowds are thin and the service is attentive at the tasting bar.

We sample some of the winery's finest while an expert explains each drop. Swirl, sniff, slurp. Swirl, sniff, slurp. My girlfriend smiles. Now this is how you make things better.

Next we grab a wine map and plot the rest of our day. We decide five wineries will be sufficient for a single outing. This will hopefully maximise our tasting potential while minimising my fairly criminal obligation to spit most of these amazing wines into a metal bucket.

Ten Minutes by Tractor is just up the road. It might be 10 minutes by tractor, but it's about three minutes by two-door hatchback. We tear into the carpark and beat another hasty path towards the tasting bar.

More explanations, more glugging. This wine is seriously good, so we make our first purchases of the day. They're slung into the back of the car, I gun the 25cc engine and we make our way towards T'Gallant Winery.

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However, there's a small problem here. In fact there are about 70 small problems, and most of them are running around the yard screaming and being chased by their parents. Nothing puts a dampener on romance like seeing the products of so many romances, so we make a swift exit and head for lunch.

In case you were wondering, here's where you need to go for lunch to make things better: Montalto Vineyard.

If someone needs impressing you could hardly do better than a glass-walled dining room overlooking vine-covered hills, with wine poured into glasses that look like goldfish bowls and haute cuisine served on wooden boards and white plates in cool surrounds.

As a penance for having been a bit of an idiot, there are worse experiences to go through. Good food, nice wine, fun conversation? Maybe I should do this more often.

I won't, obviously, not least because of the hefty bill. With that paid, however, we're free to cruise down the road to the final winery of the day, Yabby Lake, home to some of my favourite wines from the peninsula.

If you've tried the pinot noir here, you'll understand the criminality of having to spit most of it out after getting just the faintest taste. My girlfriend, meanwhile, is free to drink as much of it as she likes, and enjoy it as much as she likes, both of which she appears to be doing.

And with that, things are almost - almost - better again. Not bad for a short day out.

The writer funded his own travel (and lunch).

Have you ever arranged a day trip (or other trip) in order to impress your loved one? What other romantic gestures have you engaged in while travelling? Post your stories below.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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