Old Wine, Old Wive

It is easy to choose which college to study at (for those of us who don’t study, we don’t really have a choice, don’t we?). It is easy to choose a career (similar reason as choosing a college). It is easy to choose Valentine’s gift for your wife (just get the most expensive diamond ring you can afford to buy). It is easy to choose baby diapers for your newborn (just pay for the brand your wife decided to get). It is, however, an extremely difficult task to choose a wine that you can keep for twenty years or maybe more, only to be opened and drank on your twentieth wedding anniversary.

If you love wine as much as I do and your newly purchased wine is usually finished within an hour or two, I am sure you had faced this dilemma at some point of your life too : What wine ages well?

glass of red wine

As a general rule, always opt for a wine that is high in tannins (only applicable in the case of red wine) or acidity if you intend to keep it for years. Such wine is comparable to a woman in her forties – the flavours might have faded but it had not disappeared. The youth had matured and evolved into a new type of vibrancy and excitement and each taste tingles every sensory organ of yours. Edges softened and she – yes, wine is feminine – is no longer unapproachable and unreachable. Unlike a young girl – I mean, a new bottle of wine, aged wine has the depth and complexity in it that new wines lack. It leaves you amazed and bewildered yet troubled trying to find the perfect word to describe it before giving up because it is simply impossible, and you resorted to quoting John Green that such wine can only be described as stars in a bottle before concluding that no word had been invented by mankind to accurately describe the heavenly orgasmic taste of a bottle of aged wine.

 

Another rule that a wine lover shall strictly and religiously adhere to when choosing a bottle of wine that shall not be drank for years is that such wine must be of low alcohol level, ideally it shall not exceed 13.5%, the only exception being wines that are extremely acidic or high in tannins. Alcohol not only has an adverse effect on man’s ability to reason but it affects wine’s lifespan too. It is of utmost importance to remember that dry wines that are not preserved with distilled spirits, like a gorgeous young lady who does not know the meaning of kindness and compassion, generally do not last long.

 

An aspect that is commonly and conveniently forgotten when considering which wine will age well is the sweetness of the wine, due to man’s preference for dry wine. Wine with higher residual sugar, like a woman with a sweet personality can and will always age well.

 

Now that you know the criteria, gentleman, go get the right anniversary wine for the lady of your life!

 

Wine Cellar Decor for Any Homes

Regardless of how beautiful the new, modern furniture and other technological items might be, people still like to have wine cellars to store their favourite wines.

Although wine cellars are considered as a luxury in Singapore and only for the rich people only, it should actually not be the case – there are many different, beautiful types of wine cellars that could be acquired at budget prices as well. The more meticulous and creative people will be able to turn seemingly worthless wine cellars into beautiful and adorable décor for any type of home. In fact, I have found that for a lot of people, wine cellars are actually considered to be a key element of the home décor in Singapore as well.

Below, I will be trying to elaborate on some awesome ideas of how wine cellar décor could be used to beautify any home, regardless of the space available.

For people with limited space in their homes, the most popular wine cellars have traditionally been in the form of ready-made closets. With a large variety of nice looking wine cellar closets consisting of up to hundreds of spots for wine bottles, your home could gain that missing piece without risking its tidiness or space. Usually made of wood, the wine cellar closets are tall and narrow in order to best optimize the available space.

wine cellar in closet

Alternatively for less spacious homes, a creative way to make a great use of the space beneath the stairs is to use it for storing wine – by doing that, you kill two birds with a stone as a wine cellar will beautify an otherwise barely usable space whilst also saving space from another place you would have put the wine cellar in. Although these wine cellars will likely require custom work, you might get lucky to find one that fits the triangular space perfectly with the shape of your home’s stairs.

On another side, if you are fortunate to have considerable space available for wine storing, you have more than a few options to make a customized, eye-catching wine cellar. The most popular wine cellar people – especially enthusiastic wine collectors- use are in the basement. By decorating the basement with either ready-made or customized wooden shelves, you are sure to have a part of the home you will be envied upon – not to mention the joy you will receive every time you step in there. Additionally, investing in a wine room-specific system which circulates the air and controls the temperature will ensure an even higher quality of the stored wines.

Although sky is the limit for the creative options people have when it comes to choosing wine cellars in a spacious home, another electrifying idea is to develop a hidden basement (usually with a floor door in kitchens) and invest in beautiful shelves along the stairs as well as the base room below. Circular stairs full of wine bottles stored along the way is one of the most beautiful scenes you will get to see!


Basically, whether you have limited or unlimited space for wine cellars in your home matters little, what matters the most is your will and dedication to make the best of what you have available. Being an enthusiastic wine collector and putting an effort into creating space for it will definitely be very rewarding. Your home will thank you for it!

Wine Investment – Profit or Pleasure?

Due to sky-high living cost, depressingly low salary and the desperate attempt to get out of hopeless financial situations such as endless credit card debts and home loans Singapore, people today invest in anything – unit trust, shares, property, gold, Hermes handbag and wine.

Majority of the wine collectors don’t decide to invest in wine.  They are usually wine lovers who unfortunately lost the ability to enjoy wine because they were diagnosed with Helicobacter Pylori, or their cellars just couldn’t hold another bottle of wine. They had no choice but to sell some of their beloved treasured bottles and by doing so, they come to the wonderful realisation that the love of their lives also turned out to be the financial saviour of their lives, and thus they embark on the journey of wine investment.

Then again, as wine’s price rises according to the higher demand for fine wine especially from Asia buyers and the widespread knowledge that wine’s price does not rise and fall with stocks and bonds as well as the exciting fact that wine investment is able to provide bond-like security with stock-like return, we now have a new species of wine investors. These are not the accidental wine investors mentioned above. They see wine as an investment, an asset, and nothing more than that. Instead of collecting and savouring wine, they prefer to opt for wine funds – something similar to mutual funds.

These people might not know the difference between Bordeaux and Burgundy but they are perfectly knowledgeable about how long they have to wait before selling it (5 years at the very least as wine is not a fast turnaround investment), the minimum bottles of investment wine required (usually 3 bottles per set as seen at most auctions), the minimal initial investment required ($20,000 in most cases) and to make sure that cru classe Bordeaux, being the wine that had been consistently gaining value, is included as an important part of their wine fund portfolio even though they had no idea how it tastes like.

Overall, wine investment seems to be the perfect investment for all, be it wine enthusiast or not – with a minor drawback : the fees. Normally it would be two percent of assets under management and an additional twenty percent of the profits, which, taking into consideration the percentage of the return (twelve percent), it is relatively high.

It seems that wine investment is still an investment option specifically made and catered for wine enthusiasts. Should anything go wrong with their investments, they can just drown their sorrows by opening a bottle of wine.

Also, in comparison to buying and storing wines but never drinking it, it is definitely more enjoyable to buy five cases of claret, drink two cases after ten years, sell the remaining three and then repeat the whole process.

Despite the rising demand in fine wine, when it comes to wine investment, profit is still second to pleasure so let’s stick to the conventional investments.

 

 

 

 

Personalize your party with a personal sommelier

We live in an age where the phrase “Customer is king” is becoming more and more prevalent. With brands competing for the customers’ attention with constant improvements and innovations in their supply, including options like personalization of their products such as personalizing wines and services to suit their individual needs, the customers are spoilt for choice in today’s world.

In Singapore for example, the “third wave of coffee” movement has resulted in consumers personalizing their coffee, or “kopi” as it is known here, by having it either extra strong or less sweet among many options. There are intact popular memes and infographic on the Internet illustrating the different ways to order a coffee in Singapore.

Personalize coffee

The “second wave of coffee” of course saw the entry of commercialized coffee such as Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, with the service adding an extra touch of personalization by asking one’s name while ordering. This third wave of coffee also has resulted in the growth of what is popularly known as “hipster cafes” across Singapore – Tiong Bahru, Everton Park and Jalan Besar being some examples. In these cafes, in addition to being able to personalize the coffee, the service is conducted by extremely knowledgeable and passionate barista, and a great atmosphere is provided at the café.

It’s strange that despite this love for personalization seen throughout Singapore, there is yet to be prevalent businesses that specialize in personalizing birthday parties or wedding anniversaries. The idea of having one’s own personal sommelier to choose wine and a personal chef in Singapore to find the perfect wine to go with the menu for the evening is one that would be an exciting one for the food and wine-loving population of Singapore.

personal wine

Parties and celebrations can be organized easily and with the minimum of fuss as the people involved just need to be present for the event while the experts in the “personalization” business take over the responsibilities of making the evening a great one. Wine is almost always, the lifeline of a good party. You could have a mediocre party made great with an excellent selection of wine. Even a good party can be made a truly memorable one with the proper choice of wine. In fact, many a time, one comes across parties where despite having delicious food items, the lack of a decent choice of wine would leave the partygoers slightly disappointed. Is this because as party-planners we tend to focus on the food and leave the selection of the wine to faith? This can be addressed by leaving the wine selection to a personal sommelier that knows the ins and outs of wine tasting. One can even extend this idea to birthday parties to personalize other aspects like selection of the cake, décor of the party venue, costumes and even surprise performances and pranks!

Leave all the planning to the experts and all you need to do is be present and enjoy the evening. This idea of a “personal sommelier” is something that has great potential in Singapore, with a great community of food and wine aficionados, partygoers and socializers, especially among the ever-increasing expat crowd.

Crowd Source Wine App with Mobile Marketing

Technology is making the ancient industry of wine making much more exciting now. Recently, I have discovered several crowd source wine evaluation apps. This is right up my alley because often I feel an expert sommelier wine evaluation is much too technical for my liking. I am just a regular person that likes wine. To me, a good wine is just enjoyable with my friends. Such crowd source wine evaluation app is perfect as the people who are rating the wines are regular joe like me. These app also have in-app mobile marketing that allows me to discover new wine or new places to enjoy wine.

This is an app that I use very often, Vivino. I really like this app because I just need to snap a photo of the wine label instead of typing in the vineyard names. Some of these vineyards, especially the French ones, have really long names! To find a wine review is as simple as snap and read. That’s how simple it is! In addition to this, I can see the average cost of a particular wine, this makes wine purchase so much easier. The only thing that I wish such app will have is where is the cheapest place to buy this wine. This can an additional income source for this app. Mobile marketing and in-app advertising are such norm these days that the developers can really get a sizable ad revenue by providing wine price comparison from different merchants.

Vivino mobile app

I often attend wine events to try new wines. Here is an app that helps me keep track of wine events and also to discover new events. It will be great if I can organize personal wine tasting events on this app. I read an interesting idea to host such events is to have some friends over. Each attendee will bring 2 bottles of wine. 1 bottle will be kept and another bottle will be wrapped in opaque paper. Then we can start the blind wine tasting. After the tasting session, everyone will vote for the bottle that they like most. The winner will be the one who brought the wine that has most votes. The winner will then be the first person to pick a bottle of wine to be brought home with him / her. I would love to host such an event one day and having an app to invite participants will be really useful.

Apart from wine evaluation and wine events, I also discovered that technology has revolutionize wine-marketing. Recently, while I was channel surfing, I discovered that some wine makers have adopted high end technology to optimize the wine making process. Technology such as scanning of the grapes sizes in selecting wine making grapes. This efficient way of grape selection is able to improve the wine quality and maintain the quality as well. In addition to this, some vineyards have purchased NASA developed anti microbes technology to prevent any mould or unwanted bacteria from growing on the oak barrel during the aging process. Such advance technology has really revolutionize wine-making. However, I wonder has technology taken away the wine-making intuition from the wine-makers? I hope wine makers will still preserve some of the surprise element in wines.

Vibrant Startup Community and World’s First Durian Wine Under One Roof

Singapore has always been known as the world’s easiest place to do business. In recent years, there have been great amount of effort spent to build a strong and creative startup community. Creativity sometimes yield the unexpected. A team of researcher in National University of Singapore (NUS) has created the world’s first durian wine.

For those who watched Fear Factors may recall this spiky fruit with the most repulsive smell ever was one of the challenges the Fear Factor participants had to endure to get the grand prize. Durian is often described as “taste like heaven but smell like hell”. This spiky fruit is also known as the King of Fruits and is highly loved by most Singaporeans.

Durian

The team of researcher who fermented this beloved fruit into the unconventional wine claimed that the nose of the wine is less repulsive as the actual fruit. They described the process of this fermenting this wine is rather unusual. First they will need to make the pulp of the fruit into liquid form. The creamy texture of the pulp will require some amount of water to be added in order to process it into liquid form. Once this step is done, the liquid durian is ready to be fermented. This wine has slightly lower concentration of alcohol at about 6%. This may be attributed to less sugar in durians compared to the conventional grapes. Here is an interview with the researchers by Reuters.

The wine researcher now seek to commercialize their creation. This is no easy feat but fortunately, the National University of Singapore has ties with various industry for commercialization of the university’s creation. Under the umbrella of NUS Enterprise, the Industry Liaison Office are set to help with such endeavors. In addition to this, NUS Enterprise also supports young startups through Plug-in@Blk 71 by providing co-working space in Singapore, business advise, as well as a strong creating  startup community to nurture the entrepreneurs in Singapore.

 

 

Veuve Clicquot – The Invention of Riddling Technique

Last week I wrote about the accidental discovery of Champagne by Dom Pérignon. At the end of my post, I mentioned that the modern, heavenly Champagne that we enjoy these days is a contribution by Veuve Clicquot. But, how so?

Veuve Clicquot is an extraordinary woman in the 19th century. This champagne brand name is named after its founder Clicquot. But the founder’s only son, Francoise Clicquot died in a very young age and the wine business was passed on to his widow wife. Veuve means widow in French. Hence, the name Veuve Clicquot. Some people also refer to her as Madame Clicquot. But enough about semantics, as this post is not about the life story of Veuve Clicquot but it is about her invention of the riddling technique that make the modern champagne possible. If you want to know more about her, you can check out this blog that did very good summary of the life story of Veuve Clicquot. If you have more time at hand, you can also read this book that tells you adventure of Veuve Clicquot’s life.

 

Veuve Clicquot painting by Boursault

Veuve Clicquot painting by Boursault

So what about this riddling technique that creates the modern champagne that we drink? I mentioned in my previous post that champagne is created due to the second fermentation of wine in the bottle. As a result of this, the by-product of fermentation – carbon dioxide is trap in the bottle. The carbon dioxide creates the bubbles in the bottle. In addition to carbon dioxide, there is also dead yeast in the bottle. The dead yeast is known as lees that causes the wine to be cloudy. You can imagine how unattractive champagne was at that time, with the bubbles that almost look like beer foam and cloudy liquid. One may mistake wine as wheat beer with the appearance of champagne.

Lees in wine

Lees in wine

Veuve Clicquot, like Dom Pérignon, hated the foam and the cloudy appearance of wine. But, unlike Dom Pérignon, her motivation was to please her customers rather than perfecting the wine art. Veuve Clicquot, along with her cellar master, Antoine de Müller, designed the riddling rack that holds the wine bottles at a 45-degree angle. This allowed lees to drop to the bottles’ neck, making it easy for them to remove the lees. The wine bottles were turned every 2 days and the slight tap on the bottle caused the less to drop further into the bottles’ neck. The angle of the pupitre is also altered as the wine mature until the bottles were directly upside down and the sediment of lees were at the tip of the bottles.

Champagne bottles in Veuve Clicquot cellar

Champagne bottles in Veuve Clicquot cellar

 

Le Remueur: 1889 engraving of a man engaged in the laborious daily task of turning each bottle a fraction

Le Remueur: 1889 engraving of a man engaged in the laborious daily task of turning each bottle a fraction

Once this process is completed, the lees were removed from the bottles creating the crystal clear champagne that we drink today.

Photos credit to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riddling#Riddling

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lees_(fermentation)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veuve_Clicquot

Dom Pérignon – The accidental discovery of Champagne

Have you ever wonder how the wonderful champagne was created? I often find myself paying tribute to whoever that created this heavenly drink (especially when I’m tipsy). Since I’m on sabbatical lately, I’ve decided to do some research on the history of champagne and wine.

Champagne is a type of sparkling wine from the Champagne region in France. And only the sparkling wine produced in this region can be named Champagne.

Apparently, champagne was not created. It was an accidental discovery by a French monk named Dom Pérignon.

dom perignon monk

You see, in the 17th century, wine was fermented in a barrel and then it was transferred to the wine bottles. Little did people know that the cold winter will prematurely stop the fermentation of wine because yeast will go into dormant during the winter. As the weather warms up in Spring, the yeast will become active again and continue to ferment the remaining sugar in the wine. During this second fermentation, carbon dioxide was released into the bottles. As carbon dioxide was released, the pressure within the wine bottle increased. As the wine bottles were not designed to withstand high pressure, the wine bottles exploded causing much chaos amongst the cellar master. Even when the wine bottles did not explode, the wine will turn out bubbly. This was a disgrace to the nobles in France.

Although, the champagne was discovered by Dom Pérignon, he did not like the inferior bubbles. He spent much of his life trying to get rid of the bubbles in wine. Sparkling wine was frown upon until the English noblemen started developing a taste for bubbly wines in the 19th century. This was mainly attributed to an invention by Veuve Clicquot. But the story of Veuve Clicquot is for another post. For now, let’s sit back and enjoy a lovely bottle of champagne.

Dom Perignon Champagne