5 Fun Facts about Booze Consumption Trends in Singapore

Red wine is the leader

Singaporeans favourite wine is red wine, which represents 70% of the still light wine market with 645,000 of 9-litre cases consumed in 2014. White wine holds the second rank with 251,000 cases consumed in 2014 and will continue to grow by 1.2%.

Rosé wine is becoming more popular

Rosé wine is growing strong. From very low level, rosé wine has grown by 24.2% between 2010 and 2014.

Sparkling wines continue to grow steadily

The sparkling wine category grows steadily but slowly, a trend which is going to continue to 2019 with a forecast 12.3% growth in volume. Champagne is growing stronger than other sparkling wines as it benefits mainly from popularity between tourists and expats.

Top wine supplying countries

Australia dominates the import market with a 38.5% market share. Chile comes second with 16.5% of overall market share. Chilean imports have been boosted by weakening of US dollars, creating a positive growth of 71% between 2010 and 2014. France holds the third rank in 2014, with a 16% market share.

Whisky is the favourite among spirits

Whisky remains the favourite spirit of Singaporeans. The category is forecast to grow by 13.8 % between 2015 and 2019.

Cognac / Armagnac currently holds the second rank, but will continue to decline over the next five years by 5.6% between 2014 and 2019. This is mainly due to decreasing numbers of Chinese tourists.

Vodka ranks third with with 44,000 of 9 litres cases consumed in 2015. It is forecast to decrease slowly by 4.5%.

Gin and Tequila respectively hold the 4th and 5th places in the spirits’ ranking and consumption will be increasing between 2014 and 2019. Gin is forecast to grow by 28.6% and Tequila by 23.1%. The increase is driven by the super-premium gins sold mostly in drinking holes and dining places.

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Find out more at VINEXPO

VINEXPO, the leading International Wine and Spirits Exhibition, returns back to Hong Kong from 24-26 May 2016. Showcasing the world’s premier wine producers with 60 dynamic events and activities, including highlight on Italian wines with masterclasses & tastings, exclusive forum on China and Australia market, ‘One to Wine Meetings’ tailored for exhibitors and trade executives, and a ‘Shiraz Day’.

Presentations on latest trends of key interest to sommeliers and F&B managers are by famous winemakers and critics including Debra Meiburg, Dixon Yuan, Jeannie Cho Lee, Li Demei, Michel Rolland, Simon Tam and Bettane & Desseauve.

For more information on how you can benefit as a trade visitor, visit their website www.vinexpohongkong.com

4 Tips on Proper Wine Storage

Last month, I was invited to Gaggenau’s event, where Julien Drevon, Head Sommelier from Sarment shared about the Super Rhône wines. For those who are unfamiliar with this new “classification”, Super Rhône Wine is an unofficial category of Rhône wines not recognized within the French wine classification system (AOC). It’s inspired by the Super Tuscan producers who decided to step out of the rigid Italian appellation system by introducing a new category of world class wines.

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Wine like Super Rhône and Bordeaux required proper storage. For wine lovers who are serious about what their collection, here are four tips I learnt from the experts on proper wine storage:

  1. CONSISTENT TEMPERATURES CONTROL 

The number 1 most important point to note when storing wine is to never let the temperature rise above 24°C at all times. At 24°C, wine begins to oxidize, it’s important to keep it below this temperature. Storing wines at the right temperature slows the aging process. It won’t “hurt” the wine, provided the temperature remains consistent. Optimal range for wine storage control is from +5 °C to +20 °C.  It’s recommended to get a dual climate zone wine fridge or to store your red and white separately. For red wines, the ideal range is 12-13°C and for white wines the temperature is cooler at 7-8°C.

  1. PROTECTION

Wine is affected by light, so when storing it, keep it in a cool, dark place. This is also the reason why you should always get bottles from wine shops and not those under harsh spotlights in duty free stores. Exposure to sunlight can ruin your wine and lead to an unpleasant smell.

  1. HUMIDITY CONTROL

Humidity in the wine storage area should be kept at a constant 70 percent humidity. Higher humidity level keeps the cork from drying out and minimizes evaporation of the wine. A humidity level that’s too high can cause mold to grow and wine labels to fall off over time.

  1. VIBRATION CONTROL

Vibrations can also affect the condition of wine in the long term. Sometimes, significant vibrations could possibly disturb the sediment in older wines and keep them from settling, potentially making them unpleasantly gritty. It’s important to ask and choose a wine storage with low-vibration operation for your wines to age perfectly.

Gaggenau Vario cooling 400 series

This article is brought to you in conjunction with Gaggenau and Sarment.

Made in Germany, with a history of more than 330 years, Gaggenau is a manufacturer of high-quality home appliances and an innovation leader in design and technology. Gaggenau RW 464 wine climate cabinet helps to achieve consistent temperatures with exact control. It comes with two independently controllable climate zones, UV protection feature, humidity control, and is engineered to operate with barely any vibrations so you can be assured that your wines are well taken care of.

More than a wine merchant, Sarment aims to provide bespoke wine and lifestyle services to its Luxe Club Members. Members receive exclusive invitations to monthly cocktail nights, two bottles of wine curated by their world class sommeliers and access to other Luxe Privileges.

Staycation in Chinatown, Singapore

Everyone needs pampering once in a while. Since I started my new job last month, I had been working till late almost every day and was really looking forward to the SG50 National Day long weekend. Since I was unable to fly off for a short getaway, the next best thing was to do what Singaporeans love best – staycation.
The lovely thing about a staycation is learning how to be a tourist in your own backyard and rediscovering your own city. For these reasons, we decided to check out the newly opened Thai restaurant in Telok Ayer Street followed by an overnight stay at Hotel 1929.
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Recently opened in late July 2015, Cha Thai is the second concept restaurant by Loaves Me Group. Cha Thai simply means Thai tea, you know, the popular sweetened iced tea (teh peng) that we would usually buy from a cafe or street vendor in Bangkok. I don’t know why the owners named the restaurant as such but I am guessing they want to introduce a fusion concept of toast & tea to us. Think of it as Toast Box, or Ya Kun but Thai style – the take-away counter forms only one part of the restaurant.
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But today I want to share more about it’s main restaurant and it’s menu. Before I continue further, I have to remind you that this blog post is about pampering myself. So Cha Thai is considered expensive if you are comparing to Thai restaurants in Golden Mile but it definitely gives Thai Express a run for their money, cos Cha Thai offers premium Thai cuisine at an affordable price in a casual, relaxing setting.
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Creamy Crab Roll ($15) – Deep fried spring roll sticks served with crab cream sauce

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[Front] Tom Yum Soup (Thick) $28 -Thick soup base created with variety of herbs with tiger prawns, mussels, fish balls and mushrooms. [Back] Tom Yum Soup (Clear) $28 – Clear soup base herbs and basil leaves with tiger prawns, mussels, fish balls and mushroom.

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Baked Pineapple Rice ($18) – Curry spiced baked rice with chicken, pineapples, cashew nuts, sweet pepper bells, and raisins

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[Left] Steam Giant Sea Bass Fillet ($35) – Ocean seabass fillet boneless steamed with chili, garlic, herbs and lime sauce. [Drinks] Butterfly Pea Juice and Lemongrass Tea (both at $3.90 each)

What makes me love Cha Thai is that they use premium ingredients. For our appetizer, the spring roll sticks, it is served with real crab meat inside the cream sauce. For soup, I recommend the Clear Tom Yum Soup as it is lighter in content comparing to the Thick Soup, but equally spicy. Chopped Chinese sausage was topped onto the Pineapple rice, making it an perfect fragrant combination. The steamed Sea Bass was fresh and without the ‘fishy smell’. To round it off, we ordered the toast cubes. Try the Cha Thai version of kaya (coco jam), a refreshing taste to pair with the golden brown toast cubes.

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Cha Thai Toast ($8) – Golden brown toasted cubes with choice of pandan or Cha Thai (Thai tea) flavor

After our meal, we took a 10-minute walk from Telok Ayer Street to Hotel 1929 in Keong Saik Road via New Bridge Road. The walk was also a good way for us to burn off some fats and digest our food. It’s been a while since I stayed at a boutique hotel, the last time was in Malacca.
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Hotel 1929 is a boutique hotel in Singapore’s Chinatown. Hotel 1929 beckons with a whimsical mix of old world architecture and a chic interior. The boutique hotel consists of five conservation shop-houses built in 1929, and features 32 individually designed rooms decked in a mix of classic designer and retro vintage furniture. 1929 is conveniently located along the fringe of Chinatown, a 5 minute walk from Outram Park MRT Station.

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After check-in, we proceed to head up to the top floor. We walked past through the narrow corridor along the 4th storey  and were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by our small suite. At the first glance, it looked like a pigeon hole and reminded me of some hotels in Hong Kong that I had stayed at before. After the rain had stopped, we discovered the roof top terrace that was part of the Terrace Suite, it provided a great hang out spot for four of us.
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The indoor blue mosaic-tiled shower room is fairly small too. There is no partition between shower area and toilet bowl so be careful not to wet your toilet seat. But what the guestrooms lack in size, they make up for in amenities. There is premium coffee-making machine with Nespresso capsules, handy smartphone (I didn’t get a chance to test it out), outdoor bath tub, mini bar with coke and juices. If you consider the terrace area, it’s really comfortable initmate retreat.
We spent a lot time and fun, taking turns on the rocking chair. Overall Hotell 1929 is a designer concept with artsy decor centered around different types of chairs. For example, there were various vintage barber chairs in the lobby, and special theme for every room.
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For dinner, we went for the set dinner at Restaurant Ember. Priced at $88++ per person, it might seemed expensive but the 4-course dinner was definitely worth every dollar for the experience. I chose to add on the wine pairing at $30++ for delightful dinner.
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The bread is freshly baked. It’s so delicious that we asked for a second helping.

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1st Appetizer – Carpaccio of Hokkaido Scallops, Daikon, Arugula, Ginger & Rice Water Vinaigrette

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2nd Course – Pan-seared Foie Gras, Slow-cooked Eggs, Unagi & Truffle Sauce

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Main Course – 60-hour Slow-cooked Angus Short Ribs, Burnt Onion Puree, Tomato Confit & Beef jus

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Dessert – Champagne Jelly, Macerated Stawberries & Yogurt Sorbet

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Complimentary dessert from Restaurant Ember

After dinner, we took a walk around the neighbourhood. Located at the uptown part of Chinatown, the hotel is away from the usual crowd. During the day it is an area where small business and offices are located. When night falls, the mixture of cafes and eateries come to live.

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In the morning, I tried bathing at the outdoor shower. Honestly, it can be a very liberating experience, something for you to check off your bucket list. But the weather was not in my favour, the sky soon turned dark and there was light rain. The curtains kept flying – either sticking onto my soapy back or semi-exposed my naked butt. I really won’t recommend to use it during a windy day but people with outdoorsy fetish or exhibitionist will definitely enjoy it.
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After showering, we went downstairs for breakfast. For breakfast, Restaurant Ember serves breakfast set with choice of scramble, soft/hard boiled or sunny side up eggs. Every set comes with baked potato, beans, bacon and sausage. We help ourselves to the table of toasts, croissants, fruits, cereal and porridge. The croissants were very yummy even though we didn’t toast it. After we were done with our meal, the staff served us yogurt while we were enjoying some fruits.
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Overall, Hotel 1929 is an awesome experience for a 1 or 2 nights stay. I wish we have more time to enjoy the alfresco area as it was raining when we were staying there. I would definitely recommended it for tourists and local staycations. One thing to note is that there is no swimming pool and gym at Hotel 1929 but hotel guests can use the facilities at New Majestic Hotel at Bukit Pasoh Road just further down.
Hotel 1929 is located at 50 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089154 (nearest MRT station: Outram Park – NE3/EW16). Visit their website for more information and reservation.
Cha Thai is located at 80 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 048466 (nearest MRT station: Downtown – DT17). Visit their Facebook page for more information or call 6636 3696 to make a reservation. Open daily from 8am to 10pm.
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[Contest] WIN $50 F&B VOUCHERS – 3 SETS TO BE GIVEN AWAY! 
Answer this simple question: What is the name of the Thai Restaurant mentioned in this article?
Please reply in the comment below, make sure I can contact you via email 🙂

Wine Tips from Wanderwine.com

There is a new online wine retail in town! The guys at Wanderwine.com may have just the right formula to become the next Airbnb or Uber of the wine industry – affordable, accessible and advice – the 3 key ingredients that every consumer needs, whether you are a new drinker or a seasoned wine appreciator.

Offering an initial inventory of 39 labels handpicked from Australia, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland, perhaps missing only South Africa or U.S.A., I believe there is a bottle for everyone at Wanderwine. I love these good people because they believed that great wine and the education around it shall be accessible to everyone in Singapore, and being an online company enable them to do that!

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They focus a lot on quality, both in the selection of the bottles, and also in the content on the online shop. For wine curated by their sommeliers, the consumers get high definition pictures of the bottles, the story of the wine, extensive tasting notes, food pairing suggestions, serving and drinkability notes, and even the pictures of the vineyards in the area of the wines. It is something that nobody would not be able to do in a retail shop without a tremendous amount of physical space.

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One of wanderwine’s tastemakers, Gerald Lu (Best Sommelier SG 2010)

The online element also allows more freedom and creativity for their sommeliers team as they can easily publish fun or educational articles to audience and share their knowledge about wine!

Wine selection and wine pairing are all about: 1. knowing yourself (your taste bud, your preference, etc), 2. knowing what you plan to cook or order for your meal, 3. lastly, it’s about fun, wine pairing is about trial and error. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past before I realize that I really prefer a light red like Pinot Noir or light / sweet white like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Moscato.

Pairing Asian cuisine with wine is a lot of fun, due to the diversity of cultures, usually requiring both roundness and freshness in wines to soften out the intense flavours and spices used in cooking. A well-chilled, crisp, young and fruity white like the Marlborough Seresin Pinot Gris would go beautifully with Tuna Tataki, Ponzu, Smoked Enoki, onion, or Puffed Rice. On the other hand, salted dishes, like the smoked salmon, or even salted egg yolk prawns will pair well with whites like the Amigne de Vetroz, La Danse des Etoiles, which boasts of good acidity and gentle tropical fruits notes.

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For red meats, try pairing the lighter, less intense braises such as duck or even cumin-spiced lamb leg with a Shiraz, such as the Two Hands Bellas Garden, bringing in a long finish of blistering yet silky, cushioned flavours. A red with an earthy palate and savoury characters is recommended for the other red meat selections. Paired with an interesting love story to “chase away the melancholy”, the Chateau Chasse Spleen from Bordeaux, France would serve as a good pick.

For a new person to red wine, the recommendation will be a Pinot Noir, which is lighter on the tannin. A good choice will be the Mercurey Premier Cru Clos des Barraults, which is hand harvested from 40 years old vines, ensuring the highest grape quality selection. A brilliant ruby colour coupled with a rich, “masculine” palate, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. IMG_2827

With wanderwine, you can expect to save between up to 40% off the usual retail price, while still enjoying the highest delivery and service quality. They do not have to carry the heavy weight of retail rental fee and thanks to that, they are able to pass those savings on! For example, the Bordeaux Haut Medoc Chateau Chasse Spleen that they have in their inventory would be around $135 in a brick & mortar retail shop, compared to $83 on Wanderwine.

Moreover, there is no minimum spending for delivery, but a delivery fee of S$16 is added on your purchase.  Purchases above S$75 enjoy free delivery, and Wanderwine sends your order to your door step by the next working day.

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MediaCorp artist, Elvin Ng was also there at the launch

Essentially, Wanderwine is really about pairing good bottles of wine with people who may not have known about them earlier. A good bottle of wine is a powerful tool; it can pull a party together, create enduring friendships and craft memories that last for a lifetime. Wanderwine is a reflection of the love for travel and discovery, all wrapped up in one package.