“So what is it about wine?” my sister asked me some 30 years ago. At that time, this question surprised and stumped me.
I knew that many people would reply with flowery descriptions about the taste, the feeling or indeed the sensation, but even in those days I felt there was something more to all of this. The occasion, the people, the art and even the theatre of wine all play a role, but maybe, I concluded, it was indeed something else – like the feeling of belonging to it all, a sort of secret society.
Nowadays I see that I was right on most accounts, but wrong on one. Wine is for everyone. Wine gets more enjoyable the more effort you put into it (and I don’t mean by volume). As one delves into this gargantuan subject, it becomes more and more rewarding. The variety, the culture, the personalities, the production, the dedication and the kaleidoscope of tastes, it is all quite literally intoxicating.
To me it was the start of a personal journey at the age of 20 years old, that became an adventure which would take me all over the world. From California to Tuscany, Shanxi to Santorini, Champagne to the Barossa Valley and from Hawkes Bay to Bordeaux. I have planted vines and vineyards, pumped over and crushed, fermented and fined, bottled and consumed. I have been fortunate to eat in some of the most famous restaurants of Europe and have private lunches cooked by those very chefs to accompany unique bottles of wine. I have also written for the most popular wine books in the world and was the first wine professional interviewed on Chinese TV (live) to an audience of 450 million. Nevertheless, in rare cases it can be the whole special occasion that remains in the memory, like the bottle of 1976 Rockford shiraz vintage port, decanted (through a Babushka’s tights) and drunk on the Trans Siberian Express as I transversed Lake Baikal, Siberia in 1991 with David Powell, one of Australia’s finest winemakers.
First and foremost, this column will endeavour to be enjoyable, informative and memorable. It will cover the wines available in Ho Chi Minh City, the personalities involved in bringing you these wines, both in the trade in this city and visiting winemakers, plus an overview of wine world from the starting point of the grapes varieties. I hope this column will be an inspiration to those starting out with wine and will create for them, similar long lasting memories.
As the column develops, we will work on establishing a monthly wine event, a humorous light hearted introduction to wine and wine appreciation here in Ho Chi Minh City. The proceeds for this event will be donated to the Small Change charity.
Naturally I welcome any feedback, and am happy to answer questions about wine (or even about me).
Rupert Dean worked in the wine industry and now lives in HCMC working for Regency International. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org