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Delhi Wine Club
Test Your Palate for Wines at the Hong Kong IWSC

Posted: Monday, 09 September 2013 12:11

Test Your Palate for Wines at the Hong Kong IWSC

Sep 09: The 5th edition of Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition (HKIWSC) being held on October 2-4 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center has an interesting feature wherein local wine lovers may come to the venue in the evenings and taste as many wines as they like and discuss their impression with judges who have tasted them earlier in the day, writes Subhash Arora, invited since the competition's inception as a judge

Click For Large ViewAll wines are lined up in the same format as in the adjoining judging room. Visitors choose the wines they like to taste or the entire flight in a category. They may also compare their tasting skills with those of the experts. Not only can they taste wines from popular regions ranging from Bordeaux to Barossa but also from unusual countries like Georgia, Turkey or India. You can taste even the unheard of grape varietals. You can even compare diverse wine styles like unoaked Chardonnay from Chablis with that of an oaked Chardonnay from Australia or Napa Valley.

This idea seems to be the brain-child of Debra Meiburg MW, the Director of the Competition that has only Asian judges besides a non-Asian wine expert, the well-known Aussie Winemaker Vanya Cullen this year. ‘Too much wine is wasted after a bottle is opened for sampling and usually goes down the sink,’ says Debra, who is a very popular wine educator in Hong Kong as well as China. ‘This event is seen as an opportunity to further promote to the public the wines that have entered the competition. The objective of these evenings is not to make profits but to try to recover in part the basic expenses like room hiring cost, glassware, PR support, cost of ticket sales etc,’ she adds.

As a Master of Wine who is always willing to help wine enthusiasts with a smile and without being snobbish, she adds, "Test Your Palate allows wine students and enthusiasts to taste wines in a focused and meaningful way. We hope tasters will acquire new knowledge and greater intimacy with their palates. Where else would they have the opportunity to taste substantial flights of wine rarely seen on our markets, such as from Georgia, Brazil and England? With over 1300 wines available to taste over three days, the event should have perhaps been called 'Test Your Stamina', " she says with her characteristic chuckle.

Food and Wine Matching Competition

Click For Large ViewWhat Hong Kong’s wine aficionados won’t be able to taste is the wine and food combination - an additional feature of the competition for the last couple of years. The first Asian Competition to have added the food and wine match category, it had Braised Abalone, Kung Pao Chicken, Peking Duck, Dim Sum and Sashimi as the original food categories for which the producers could submit samples exclusively, specifying each food item to match their wine with.

Last year, five new dishes were added - Tempura Shrimp, Beef Teppan-Yaki, Yakitori-Grilled Chicken, Pad Thai and Chicken Tikka- the last dish at the persistent requests from the Indian judge Subhash Arora who has been invited since inception of the competition and is a panel president.  Says Debra, ‘following the successful formula of our Chinese dishes, our goal was to expand the food and wine matching dishes so we have a “celebratory”, “classic”, Click For Large View“lifestyle” and “regional” dish for all popular Asian foods. In 2012, we introduced Indian and Thai food into the competition to compliment our Japanese and Chinese food.’

The HKIWSC is run and organized jointly by the well-known IWSC Group of London; Debra Meiburg MW, and Simon Tam, a local wine consultant who is presently Christie’s Head of Wines for China, are the local partners. It is handled very professionally with all the samples stored prior to judging, at the world renowned Crown Wine Cellars, ensuring that the wines reach the judges in a perfect condition. Judging is like all other competitions - blind; results are monitored and audited by a team from KPMG, giving the entrants complete confidence in their impartiality and validity. The last date for entry for samples is 20th September. Contact for details and submission of entries. In the meanwhile, if you happen to be in Hong Kong on 2-4 October, check out the ‘Test your Palate’ event in the evenings at the HK Convention and Exhibition Center from 6 to 8:30 pm.

Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA) 2013

The importance of Hong Kong as a growing wine market and becoming a hub has also attracted Decanter from London to organise the Asian arm of their Decanter World Awards held annually in London. In its second year of organization, the competition is chaired by the well known British journalist, ex-merchant and a competition specialist, Steven Spurrier. For Simon Tam,  if HKIWSC were  the equivalent of the well know auctioneers Christie’s for whom he is the Head of Wines for China, the DAWA would be the equivalent of Sotheby’s, the other well known London auctioneers; both very active in marketing wines through auctions in Hong Kong.

Being held on September 17-20 at the Cyber-port, the competition will also see in action Jeannie Cho Lee, the second of the two Hong Kong-based Masters of Wine and the special invitee, Sir Gerard Basset, OBE,MS, MW, MBA and the Decanter Man of year 2013, who will both assist Spurrier to oversee this competition as deputy chairpersons. Interestingly, DAWA also relies only on Asian judges for its Awards with the exception of Spurrier and the special invitee, like HKIWSC.

Voluntary Disclosure - Subhash Arora has been invited by both the competitions since inception and will be judging at both as an independent wine professional, journalist and a taster of repute, with over 30 international competitions under his palate. He has just finished judging at Mundusvini 2013 in Neustadt near Frankfurt , for the seventh year in succession-editor

Tags: HKIWSC, Debra Meiburg MW, Vanya Cullen, Hong Kong, IWSC, Simon Tam, Decanter, Steven Spurrier, Jeannie Cho Lee, Sir Gerard Basset


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