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.


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:

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