The culture of drinking wine is riddled with senseless snobbery over what you should drink with certain dishes. Never let anyone tell you the wine you should drink.
Story by Laurence Civil
By all means listen to the opinions of others but ultimately the best wine is the wine you like. If you are curious about food and wine pairing, consider the primary flavours of the dish and not the protein. Fish in a fairly powerful flavoured sauce, it will most likely work with a light red. There is no magic formula as to what does work, it’s down to comparative tastings.
For those new to drinking wine Merlot is the easiest and most comfortable variety of red wine grape. I would recommend looking at new world wine in particular from either Australia or Chile as they are a more easy drinking style.
My white wine grape variety recommendation would be either Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc as they have a light crisp taste generally the alcohol level in no more than 12.5% ABV making them suitable to drink in a warm climate. Wines with a higher level of alcohol are best saved to be drunk after dark.
Wine is generally more expensive in most countries in Asia than Europe largely because of exorbitant taxation. The one exception being Cambodia with Laos in a close second. If you are planning to pack bottles of wine in checked baggage, I strongly recommend wrapping the bottles bubble wrap to avoid breakages.
The three things that can kill the taste of a wine are light, heat and vibration. When it comes to storing wine in Asia my recommendation would be in the refrigerator where the temperature and exposure to light are constant.
While a purpose built wine fridge would be ideal for those who are luck enough to own on, for the rest of us the reality is they will go in the domestic fridge. The humidity is high and the labels can quickly become wet and slip off the bottle. To protect against this happening I would recommend wrapping the bottle in plastic food wrapping. There is nothing worse that having a fridge full of nice bottles but not knowing what they are as the labels are missing.
To optimise the taste experience it’s essential that the wine is served at the right temperature, too cold and flavours and aromas will be suppressed, to warm the taste becomes flabby. If you are storing wine in the fridge take red bottle out the fridge 45mins to 1 hour prior to serving. For a white take it out and keep in a cooler of 50% ice, 50 % cold water.
Glasses are specifically designed to enhance the wine drinking experience. As we taste 90% of a wine with our nose, I would recommend a larger bowl glass to swirl the wine, allow air into the glass to release the aroma. Tall thin glasses do look divinely elegant in the hand but corset the taste.
Hong Kong with its zero wine tax and close proximity to the Chinese market is today the world’s wine capital for trading premium wines. Investing in wine is mid-way between the gold market and the stock market. It is asset needs physical maintenance. There are two options for storing wine in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Wine Vaults (www.winevault.com.hk) is the largest self service wine facility in Hong Kong and offer the requisite space, security, temperature control. It works much like a security box at a bank. The customer rents cage space controlled by two keys, one the customers the other the vault’s. Deposits and withdrawals must be done in person which can be a draw back for a non-Hong Kong resident.
A second option Crown Wine Cellars (www.crownwinecellars.com) with six underground cellars and club house in what was the British Army’s Central Ordnance (Munitions) Depot. The bunkers are 20 metres underground with metre thick walls. They have installed state of the art computer controlled equipment to ensure even temperature, balanced humidity, zero vibration and controlled light exposure, text book cellaring. Customers simply need to instruct them two days before they wish to take wine out of the storage facility.
Whether you simply want to enjoy a glass in the sun or profit from going into the red (wine not debt), make it a delightfully enjoyable experience in Asia.