|The Wine Guy in Thailand|
The two largest wine producers in Thailand are Siam Winery and PB Valley Winery. Both have interesting histories with principals who have history in other segments of the beverage industry:
|PB Valley Winery Log (courtesy of winery website)|
|One of the few wines The Wine Guy will never consume again.|
The Chiang Rai Winery located south of the Northern Thai city of the same name (in the highlands near the famous Golden Triangle border with Burma and Laos) specializes in wines blended with herbal ingredients. The vineyards and winery were closed as we stopped by on our return to Chiang Mai but a nut factory just a few kilometers down the road carried their wines. I was intrigued by a red wine (I believe with Shiraz as the informing grape) laced with black ginger root. Regular ginger is utilized extensively in Thai cuisine and black ginger root, while less common, is used throughout Thailand in herbal remedies. I've been a devotee of ginger root/honey tea so it was no surprise to Mrs. Wine Guy when I choose that wine to sample. What DID surprise her was my total failure to even finish my first glass. Those familiar with my wine preferences know I have a broad ranging palate for wine and I've often told my customers I could count the wines I would never pour again on my fingers with digits left over. This very bitter concoction with a quite pungent nose made that list and probably is in prime contention with one western Chinese wine for the worst wine I've ever tasted! Oh well, less than ten wines out of over 2,000....that's a pretty good track record for the industry. It's unique taste and its medicinal properties probably give it a specialized following but the Chiang Rai La sante is one The Wine Guy will likely ever sample again.
|The Wine Guy makes a surprise discovery!|
Don't be surprised if you order a bottle of red wine in a fine restaurant in Thailand and the waiter shows up with an ice bucket. It happened to the Wine Guy the first time he ordered a bottle of red wine while dining. Locals generally prefer their red wine chilled and their beer is standardly served over ice. If you spend significant time in this tropical clime, you'll understand why. Actually establishments that encounter tourists regularly will usually ask for your preference in serving both wine and beer. Overall, I was pleased and even surprised at both the quality and expertise of wine service. Sommeliers are not in evidence but the level of service in many establishments suggests there must be some level of training in proper wine service. You will encounter a lot of ignorance regarding wine but far less than what you might expect given the low consumption of wine in this country.
|Inside the Writers Club and Wine Bar|
|Mr. and Mrs. Wine Guy thoroughly enjoyed |
dinner and wine on the beach in Koh Samui.
My wine experiences in thailand ranged from discovering what was probably the worst wine I've ever encountered to stumbling over one of the best and hardest wines to find in the world. You don't get much more diversity in your experience than that and I will always cherish my exploration of wine there.
As always, great food, great times and great experiences are enhanced when you pair them with a great wine. Here's hoping each of you have such an experience of your own soon!