Oriental Travels

oriental1a.jpg I was privileged to be invited to attend the first International Congress of Chinese Cuisine and Wine in Beijing at the China World Hotel between the 23rd and 25th of May. The Congress was organised by Ch’ng Poh Tiong of Singapore to see how international wines pair with Chinese food. Pictured is CH’NG Poh Tiong with Thomas ROOCH one of the panelists at the ICCCW.

Cuisine from different parts of China was selected to pair with wines from France, Germany and Austria representing the Old World, and Australia, Argentina and Napa Valley from the New World along with a single malt whisky! Altogether there were four sessions of tastings and panel discussions and the highlight was a full blown vertical tasting of Penfold Grange presented by the Chief Wine Maker of Penfold Peter Gago on the 24th and then on the following afternoon a tasting of Chateau Margaux going back to 1988 by their General Manager and Winemaker, Paul Pontallier.
Panelists had travelled from Bordeaux, Sydney, Hong Kong, Tokyo with India being represented by our Magandeep Singh. The concluding event was a gala dinner on the 25th which was a rousing success as no one was using the spittoon this time! Quite an experience. Journalists had travelled from far and wide and there were about 80 of us altogether. Regrettably, there was no Chinese wine. Consumption of wine in China is increasing by leaps and bounds and demand for good quality imported brands is on a sharp upward curve. It really all goes back to the concept of ‘drinking’ with your meal rather than just before it, as we do in India!

Right after Beijing, it was Hong Kong for the Vinexpo between the 27th and 29th of May. This was my second experience of the Asian Vinexpo which this time had 692 winemakers from 32 countries showcasing their ‘wares’. Besides a very strong contingent from the different regions of France, countries like Germany, Spain, Italy and Chile too were very well represented. And here I also got to try out some Chinese wine which was not to my taste. oriental2a.jpg
Toasting Chinese cuisine at the ICCCW, Beijing

On the side there was the Saint-Emilion Grands Crus Classés Challenge and a few very interesting technical sessions. The Challenge was won by Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere. A few months ago Hong Kong removed all duties on wine imports and the Government wants to see their city as the hub for the region for wine. What a strategic move. We can certainly see more people travelling to Hong Kong.
– Kulbir Singh

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