The peak weather and tourist season are now upon us and coming with it are a quite a number of wine dinners. Bangkokians seem to like them. They are good settings to show off the latest fashions and jewelry and one actually may be able to have a few quaffs of decent wine.
If readers are not familiar with wine dinners, let me describe them.
Wine dinners usually are built around a menu of at least four food selections but preferably five or six. The concept is to match a suitable wine with the various food items. And this is where profitably comes in and that involves the cost of the wines foods to be featured and whether the hotel or restaurant sponsoring the event will break even or make a profit. Add on the additional kitchen labor costs for such a meal and profitability of such dinners are questionable.
Large wineries have no problems with this as they produce wines at all price ranges. So a middle-of-the-road Chardonnay will usually accompany a fish dish. The main meat dish may feature a “Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon” or Shiraz that is at a higher shelf price than any of the other wines on the menu. Most of the diners usually have not tasted this up market wine. For once they are able to taste a wine that they ordinarily could not afford given Thailand’s high excise taxes.
That is the upside of wine dinners, exposing consumers to wines that they ordinarily do not taste-it’s an education. The wine dinners also promote the healthy lifestyle of drinking a glass or two with a meal.
My view is that the only time a wine dinner fails is when monotonous wines with few distinctive features are paired with cuisine that is of a higher sensory quality. In that situation there is an obvious disconnect between the wine supplier and the chef of the hotel or restaurant.
I do receive invitations to attend wine dinners from a wide variety of sources. The limiting factors for me are the cost and whether the wines on the menu are worth writing about. The cost of recent wine dinner invitations I have received are in the range from 1500 baht up to 8000 baht.
If you want to attend a wine dinner, how would you proceed?
The best way is to get a copy of the venerable Bangkok Post’s Friday edition as it usually lists forthcoming wine dinners in that edition. If one finds a wine dinner venue that appeals to your taste buds, contact the source and inform them you are coming. When arriving on the evening of the wine dinner, leave a business card and/or your name and e-mail address. Usually that is sufficient to get one on the mailing list for future wine dinners.
The final step is to take a seat on the table, greet fellow diners and then it is “Bon Appetit!” the rest of the evening.
[Article by David Swartzentruber]