I try to make a yearly trip to a wine country and/or an exhibit. I normally choose Hong Kong for the exhibit because it’s accessible, they offer a massive quantity of exhibitors, and hey… I’ve traveled to Hong Kong so much I feel like Sheung Wan is my second home. It also helps that I have family there.
This being a blog that is geared towards making wine accessible to Filipinos, let me tell you: It’s worth going to the expo if you want to learn about wines.
First, you can attend seminars. This year, I took one of my BFFs (a fellow wine-aholic) with me and had a blast learning about the diversity of Italian wines. Italian wines are one of the most difficult regions to understand because of the many sub-regions, styles, and grapes (over 1,000 indigenous ones). The seminar conducted by the Vinitalia group helped us organize our thoughts to process the massive information available on Italian wines. And trust me, it’s not boring if you and your BFF attend one featuring 6 wines at 11:30 in the morning.
Another reason to go to the expo is to be exposed to hard to find wine regions. I was personally thrilled to learn about (and sample!) wines from the ancient world.
Take Georgia, for example. Located at the border of Europe and Asia, evidence shows that the first wine making process happened here (between 7,000-5,000 BC). Their wines are still fermented in the Qvevri, a traditional earthenware (clay pot) vessel, which makes the rustic texture of their wines so pronounced. We managed to try their Saperavi, a red grape that produces wines that are almost opaque in color and has notes of licorice, dark berries, tobacco, chocolate, grilled red meats… This grape can be made dry (totally unsweet) to sweet to fortified. Drinking this wine makes you feel like you’re drinking a piece of ancient history.
Speaking of which, we also found wines from Macedonia. Sampling wines from the place where Alexander the Great came from was a thrill. Their signature red grape, the Vranec, is a high tannin red, with flavors of sour cherry liquor. Not an easy drinking wine, but perfect for roasted game and mature cheese.
Another ancient wine that was featured in this year’s expo is Israel. Growing up in a mostly Christian nation like the Philippines exposes you to Bible stories, and I’d like to think most Filipinos know that there is a correlation between wine, Israel, and Christianity. I’m saying this not to cause a religious row but to emphasize how historically significant Israel is as a nation when it comes to wine making. Right now, their industry capitalizes on producing Kosher wines due to a large Jewish population.
That being said, we should definitely talk about an an ancient civilization that is just starting out in the wine making game: China. There is so much controversy in the news regarding Chinese wines (the quality is so-so, etc etc).
To put a positive spin to it, however… We were fascinated with how the labels on the bottle echo the Chinese culture with their use of gold, which symbolizes good luck. Currently, their market is 98% Chinese (locals from the mainland), but I’m going to keep watching their development and how they would fare internationally in the long run.
Do try to visit these expos (and bring a friend). There are accessible, cheap ones which won’t require you a visa. Let me know which ones you’ve been to or are looking to go to. Cheers!