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Delhi Wine Club
HKIWSC: Test Your Palate with Tasted Wines

Posted: Thursday, 29 September 2011 11:43

HKIWSC: Test Your Palate with Tasted Wines

Sep 29 : Organizers of the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition (HKIWSC) being held on October 12-14 have come up with the novel idea of inviting wine consumers to come to the competition venue in the evenings and taste as many wines as they want during three hours and compare their palate against the judges who tasted it earlier in the day, also giving them an opportunity to learn about wines.

This ‘Test Your Palate’ programme promises education, entertainment and lots of fun, including games and challenges for the consumers, according to the organisers. All wines will be lined up in exactly the same format as in the judging room. Visitors may choose the wines they want to taste, or taste the entire flight in a category. They may also compare their tasting skills with those of the expert panels.

The concept which may be a trial for the first time, not only lets you taste wines from popular regions like Bordeaux or Barossa but also newer regions like Georgia or Mexico whose wines are not yet available in abundance in the market. You could compare diverse wine styles from different regions and even learn about several different indigenous grape varieties from several countries.

The idea seems to be novel and a stroke of brilliance. Too much of wine goes down the drain at some of these competitions. But won’t it be criticized as a money- making project by some detractors, I ask Debra Meiburg MW, one of the organisers? ‘This event is seen as an opportunity to further promote to the public the wines that have entered the competition. The objective is not to make money but to cover the basic costs like room cost, glassware, PR support, ticket sales, etc,’ says Meiburg instantly, adding ‘we are using the wines from the bottles that we opened for judging that day - instead of pouring them down the sink.’ As a part of the Hong Kong arm of the organizing team, Meiburg and her colleagues have always strived to devise novel and unique concepts to help popularize the competition and the award winning wines.

As a Master of Wine who is always willing to help wine enthusiast with a smile and without being snobbish, she adds, "Test Your Palate allows wine students and wine 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 around 1300 wines available to taste over three days, the event should have perhaps been called,"Test Your Stamina" she feels.

One day pass for tasting from 6-9 pm on 12-14 October, after tasting by the judges is over, costs HK$230 before September 30 and 3-day pass is for HK$ 650 (Rs.4000). For more details, visit or write to

The competition is run and organized by the IWSC Group of London with their Hong Kong counterparts, Debra Meiburg (DM) who is also known informally as Debra Masterofwine (DM) to her friends and Simon Tam, a Hong Kong born consultant with years of stay in Australia, a specialist on China and currently Christie’s Head of Wine for China.

HKIWSC is conducted in partnership with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC). The results of the competition will be announced at the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair to be held on 3-5 November.

The main sponsors of the competition Cathay Pacific will feature it in their in-flight ‘Discovery Magazine’ with an estimated readership of over 1.6 million people, thus giving a lot of publicity to the wines. Judging is undertaken by teams of the best palates in Asia specially flown in by Cathay Pacific. The team includes Subhash Arora from India; he has been invited to judge for the third time. He had to regret the first time due to prior engagements but now finds it too irresistible to miss out the excellent opportunity of being a part of ‘Asia’s Choice, Asia’s Voice,’ competition, as it has been labeled. In fact, he has been invited to be a panel chairman, sharing the honours with the VIP Guest Judge and the international consultant winemaker from Tuscany- Alberto Antonini, Debra Meiburg MW and a Hong Kong based columnist and educator Sarah Wong.

The competition is handled very professionally with the samples of wine around 1300 of which are expected to participate, all stored prior to judging at the world renowned Crown Wine Cellars ensuring that the wines reach the judges in a perfect condition. Judging is as everywhere else- blind; there are also wine-food pairing awards. Results are monitored and audited by a team from KPMG before announcement, giving the entrants complete confidence in their impartiality and validity.

The last date for entry is 30th September and last minute entries are possible. One hopes the Indian Grape Processing Board which is taking part in the Wine Show for the third year in succession appreciated the importance of getting the wines judged on an independent international platform with Asian judges for this market and has motivated enough producers to partake in the competition, even if it means giving a 50% subsidy, like it is done by several small wine producing countries. Last year, one of the wines from Four Seasons won the first medal in this competition. We need to win more medals if we want to create the impression for the buyers specifically and wine drinkers at large about the improving quality of Indian wines.

In the meanwhile, if you happen to be in Hong Kong on 12-14 October, you may want to check out the ‘Test your Palate’ event in the evenings. Last date for Early Bird discount is 30 September, though.

Subhash Arora


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