The Life of Wine

 |  August 30, 2012

Wine tastings are great, aren’t they? Not just because they involve drinking wine, which is always fantastic, but they make the act of getting drunk more classy and legitimate than popping out to a bar and getting spanked on Chang.

Saying “I’m off to a wine tasting, dear” has a far nicer ring to it than “I’m off down the pub for lager and darts with Terry and the boys, don’t wait up.” The end result is invariably the same however and often involves struggling with a kebab while trying to persuade a key that it does fit the small hole in a front door.

Wine tastings come in all shapes and sizes. There are the huge expos where wine makers flock from around the world to show off their wares in halls the size of aircraft hangers, and there are more intimate affairs involving a couple of bottles and a good friend.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a tasting at the lovely Sangdee Gallery recently which was showing an Italian sparkler and a couple of South American reds and whites. The wines were not particularly spectacular but then this is Chiang Mai and not particularly spectacular wine here is pretty damn good, especially if you have ever suffered that ubiquitous bastard of an abomination – Mont Clare.

What was nice about the evening, other than getting to knock back some wine which actually tasted like wine, was that an organised wine event, involving tasting notes and someone who actually knows a little about the drinks being served, provides a focus for the night. Everyone has an opinion on the wine they are drinking at a tasting in a way that they might not on an ordinary night out, especially after a few glasses. I particularly enjoy the profundity which usually follows the words: “Now I’m no wine expert, but…”

Some of the best conversations seem to follow: “Asparagus? Are you getting asparagus? I’m getting asparagus.” And people usually make a bit of an effort for a tasting. Because it’s the sort of thing one is invited to it seems appropriate to pop on a shirt and a pair of trousers rather than a wife-beater and some cargo shorts. It’s also an ideal excuse for the girls to show off their pretty dresses.

I think it’s a shame that wine tasting is still often seen as a pretentious excuse to ponce around with a glass of something fruity saying that it’s not quite as good as the Petrus vertical tasting which was on last week. What I saw at the recent gallery event was lots of people breaking the ice with a: “Ah, you’re onto the Malbec. What do you think?” and then moving on to discussions about the intricacies of the global tobacco industry, the Tour de France and the works of Thai authors Kukrit Pramoj and SP Somtow. A couple of glasses after that and of course everything reverted to that good old drunken staple – willies, breasts and sex.

Wine tastings are also great because they are so easy to set up. The tools needed are a corkscrew and a few glasses – ideally at least one for each guest – and some wine. That’s it. If you are feeling a tad extravagant then a plate of crackers and some cheese can provide an added touch of class. Also, if you are hosting the event then you can become an instant expert and blow the minds of your friends by memorising the blurb on the bottle’s back-label. So, homework for this month is to pop on a pretty dress and host your own wine tasting. Any invites for me to come along in my pretty dress can be sent to Citylife.

Just time to answer one quick question I was sent. How does one keep wine fresh in Chiang Mai’s rancid heat? Hmm, tricky one. There are two ways to do this. One is to order a wine cellar from a company like Eurocave which will cost the same as a two bedroom condo overlooking Doi Suthep. The second is to dig a six foot hole in the garden and bury it. Do keep the questions coming.

Thank you to Wine CNX ( for the event.