Last year saw a big change in the wine landscape. It’s sad to see the F&B industry taking the hardest hit from the pandemic, but at least there is a silver lining. Both wine retailers and online shops have reported sales increases of mid-priced wines, despite the drop in sales of trophy wines.
Work-from-home measures, social-distancing rules and no-dine-in periods encourage occasional drinkers to enjoy a glass or two of wine at home more often, either with dinner or happy hour with friends on WhatsApp or Zoom. High-flying financiers who normally drink at restaurants realise that wine can be that much cheaper and more delicious now that they drink at home. All my friends outside the wine trade have told me that they bought more wine in 2020.
However, for various reasions, most people stick with popular wines or regions. This is a pity as there are so many styles to choose from. If you belong to this group, try this…
Say you often drink Bordeaux. Instead, try a Bordeaux blend beyond France. Bordeaux white wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, while a Bordeaux red blend is mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, supported by Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère. Both blends are classic and made in nearly every wine-producing country including the USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Chile, Japan and China. You will still be within your comfort zone, but you’ll have the chance to experience Bordeaux blends from other countries. Who knows – you may discover a few wines that can rival your beloved French Bordeaux.
Or instead of having Bordeaux, try other French wine outside Bordeaux. From Champagne, Burgundy and Loire to Alsace, Rhône and southern France, each region has its own distinct grape varieties and wine styles.
And how about exploring wine from lesser-known regions? Rioja and Tuscany are the most popular regions from Spain and Italy, but have you tried Spanish wine from Toro or Italian wine from Marche? Both use the same major grape varieties as in Rioja and Tuscany (Tempranillo in Spain and Sangiovese in Italy), but there are subtle differences in the wines.
If you are adventurous, you can look for wines from countries that people don’t normally associate with wine such as India, Mexico, England and Canada (not ice wine but white and red wine). Over 70 countries in the world produce wine! Why just stick with a few typical wine countries?
The pandemic will be over one day, but let’s not forget the pleasure of enjoying a glass or two of wine at home. We are lucky in Hong Kong that there are a lot of boutique and medium-sized wine suppliers that are passionate and happy to recommend something new for you. Here are a few wine shops that I frequent:
Bachmair Wines – German and Austrian wine
Cork Culture – boutique importer of natural, biodynamic and organic wines
Cuvées – Canadian wine
Golden Gate Wine – USA wine and champagne
Heritage Wines – focus on Italian wine
La Cabane – another supplier of natural, biodynamic and organic wines
Schmidt Vinothek – good selection of German wine
Springbok Wines – new importer of 100% South African wine
Victoria Wines – good selection from both the Old and New World
Wine Impala – another new importer of South African wine, representing some talented winemakers
wine’n’things – focus on Australian, New Zealand and South African wine
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