The wine fair I go to the most is in Verona, and it is called Vinitaly. This wine fair is held every beginning of the year. Much like the Vinexpo in Bordeaux where most wineries come locally from France, the Vinitaly in Verona showcases wineries that mostly come from Italy. Other wine fairs on the other hand, such as the one in Düsseldorf, Germany or in Brussels, Belgium, showcase wineries from around the world. That means the biggest producers of wine in the world have the most stands in the halls of the Fair.
Before I go to these wine fairs, I ask myself several questions first and I prepare in advance all the necessary things to learn, as this trip is not cheap. It should be in the interest of the wine suppliers in each country, such as Indonesia, to invite sommeliers to the next and nearest wine fair. This could then give an opportunity to the wine supplier to show the Sommeliers the wineries he/she has to offer in their country.
- First I make a list of all the wines that sell well. I also visit the wineries first and find information about the new vintage years, as very often the year does change because it is sold out. This helps me decide whether or not I should keep the wine or erase it from my wine list.
- Second I go to the wineries I have read about in wine magazines, specifically ones that have a high point scale on their tastings. The goal of a good wine list is always to have new wines every year, especially ones that have received applause, and also new wines that wine lovers do not know of yet. Most of the time many of these wines come from the new world Chile and Argentina or old world Hungary and Georgia.
- During a wine fair there is always a program with schoolings of an area from the wine countries. If it is a schooling about an area then I would’ve already had many questions prepared which may not be included in the presentation. For example, one question I asked last time in Hong Kong during the presentation of St. Emilion was: “Who decides which wine is a Grand Cru Classe A or B, simple Grand Cru Classe, or not in this class of classified wineries at all?” They told me that they couldn’t tell me, because every 10 years this new classification does cause both happiness and sadness.
- There are of course tastings of many wines and areas, as well as blind tastings and vintage tastings. For me the most interesting ones are the vintage tastings of wines over 6 to 10 years. These are the tastings where you can feel for yourself if the wine has evolved or not, or if the wine is still too young or already over its zenith. It helps decide which year you should have in your wine cellar, and so on.
- It is a great opportunity to make new friends, have people come for a wine and dine into our Restaurant, Kayuputi, and to revisit wineries and their respective owners whom I’ve known for many years. The hospitality is also always great in these fairs. It is very interesting as well, because the people will sometimes let you taste the special wines they save for special guests. However, I cannot enjoy these events as much I would like to, as I still have to spit the wines so that I could be sober through the whole day of tasting. It is in the evening during dinner invitations where I could really enjoy the trip.
- I always look for maps updated with area descriptions and which have details on where I can buy new innovative tools for Kayuputi, such as wine openers for my staff, and also wine books, wine magazines and CD’s about wine areas. What you gain in only 2 days is really amazing and can saturate many schooling hours for the interested staff members.
I do hope I made you a little interested in joining a wine fair. Normally, these wine fairs are only open to the members of the wine industry, but there are always ways to get an invitation. Maybe one day we can go together!
Harald Wiesmann, Restaurant Manager of the fine dining, Asian-inspired Haute Cuisine Kayuputi and Chief Sommelier at The St. Regis Bali Resort, has a very interesting career history spanning a number of years with different roles in various countries. His 43 years of international experience has led Kayuputi to receive prestigious awards from the Wine Spectator Magazine (USA) for six consecutive years since its opening six and a half years ago, and dubbed as a fine restaurant that has one of the best wine lists in the Asian region. Harald is set to publish his book, titled “5 Years of Wine and Dine at The St. Regis Bali Resort” in the near future.