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Posted: Monday, 05 October 2020 23:29

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HKIWSC 2020: Show Must Go On for International Wine Competition

Oct 05: The 12th edition of Asia’s premier wine competition- Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition (HK IWSC) got underway today, despite the Covid restrictions, with a set of judges selected from the local hospitality industry and the competition organised in the Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel, writes Subhash Arora who has been a regular judge with 9 competitions under his belt

Hong Kong has had a double whammy this year- with the political uncertainty due to China’s rigid and unexpected stand on top of the current pandemic that made transportation of the judges from outside Hong Kong very difficult-in fact organising the Competitions a big challenge.

Flowing against the Current

But ‘The Show must go on’, says Debra Meiburg MW, Founding Director and Chairperson of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition (HKIWSC). Flowing against the current, she has made sure there is no break in the judging this year. Bucking the trend of postponement and cancellation of several international events, HKIWSC dived into the competition by choosing an enviable judging panel of the Hong Kong's top wine professionals judging who are going to judge about 1400 global wines, spirits, sake and beer, making it one of the very few international wine competitions being organised in Asia this year. 

The 2020 HK IWSC has taken strict steps to ensure a COVID-19 safe set-up for its judges, while maintaining the signature “double blind” format for the integrity of the total results. Venue has been shifted to Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel where judges will taste and deliberate in small groups in the suites. Marriott is hosting the Judging Week of HKIWSC for the first time.

Meiburg says, “While not the start to the 20’s most of us envisaged, it’s been a challenging lesson in resilience and adaptability. Given the postponements and/or cancellation of almost every major global wine event since February, the industry’s demand for forward momentum and the Asian trade’s thirst for local and relevant activity is stronger than ever. Our “show must go on” mantra was fuelled by this demand – so, here we are!”

Local Judges

While the usual Pan-Asian judges and two Guest International VIP Wine and Spirit Judges have not been able to fly in due to global travel restrictions, an outstanding, highly-experienced panel of 49 Hong Kong-based judges has been assembled, representing the best in the drinks business in Hong Kong, Asia’s long-established wine trading and investment hub. Debra says, “Featuring two Masters of Wine, two Master Sommeliers, influential wine and spirit writers and critics, leading educators, high-powered importers, F&B professionals - and even distiller and breweries – we have a deep and diverse cross-section of palates poised to determine the very best global wine, spirits, sake and beer for the Asian market.”

Food and Wine Awards

Returning to The Royal Garden Hotel for the third year, the competition’s distinguished Asian food and wine pairing awards’ 2020 roster of dishes features Masala Chicken Curry with Roti from India this year. Other dishes selected are -Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls (Gỏi cuốn), Chinese Stir-fried Preserved Vegetables with Green Peas and Bean Curd Sheets, Chinese Wok-fried Beef Fillets with Beijing Onion, Japanese Grilled Cod Fish (Gindara no Saikyō-yaki) and Japanese Deep-fried Pork Chop (Tonkatsu).

This is one of the most exciting Awards that takes place on the last day of the competition with several wines vying to match each of the dishes-sometimes the same wine is entered for more than one dish. The focus is not on the quality of the wine per se (it must be quaffable, of course), but how it dances on the palate of the tasters, with their individual choices very much in play.

Special Entry Grant for South Africa

Well aware of the struggles by the international wine industry due to COVID-19 pandemic, HK IWSC has created a special entry grant for the South African wine industry. Says Debra, “The South African wine industry has been truly devastated, with one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, along with the prohibition on the sale and export of wine. Despite lifting the export ban in May, alcohol consumption is still prohibited, bringing significant economic and socio-economic hardship to the South African wine industry. International support is vital right now, given exports comprise around 50% of the total production. We hope this small token of support can buoy producers and ensure their wonderful wines remain on our shelves in Asia.’

Of course, there will be no ‘Test your Palate’ event this year. Every year, the local wine lovers have been invited to come in the evening and taste the wines opened that day by paying a nominal amount and tasting as many wines as they can, during the marked time in the evening.

Results of the 2020 HK IWSC will be announced at an award ceremony on Wednesday, 11 November, 2020. More details can be found at www.hkiwsc.com.

We raise a toast to the successful fruition of HKIWSC, with a JAI HO!

Subhash Arora

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