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How to Conquer Hong Kong’s Wine & Dine Festival Like A Pro

Major food and wine festivals have just started to catch on in Hong Kong, with the annual Wine & Dine Festival being one of the city’s most anticipated events for gourmets and oenophiles alike. We speak to Australian wine author and critic Max Allen for tips on how to get the most out of the event, and his pick of 10 Australian bottles you’d want on your shopping list.

Words  Iris Wong


1. Stay hydrated
“An important tip for wine festivals is exactly the same as drinking wine in general, and this is one that none of us stick to enough, which is to stay hydrated. I know that sounds crazy, but if you can, for every glass of wine you have, drink an equal amount of water. It slows down the rate of absorption of the alcohol. The few times I remember to do it, I always thank myself afterwards.”

2. Pick a theme
“Every time I go to a trade tasting or a festival like this, I get the list of wines beforehand; go through it, and spend as much time as you can to choose a theme you’ll be focusing on. So you’ve heard about Barossa shiraz, for example. Choose three from the list and try them. Invariably, by the second one someone will come up to you and say, ‘Hey! Have you tried this cabernet?’ but try and stick to your theme so you don’t get overwhelmed.”

3. Do your research
“If you’ve chosen cabernet as your focus, for instance, you can try cabernets from three different regions, or cabernets from three different countries. You can even do some research and learn a bit about it before tasting it. It can be a really good educational exercise. This is what wine is all about; it’s how different they all are from each other.”

4. Don’t try the same thing twice
“I always say this to people when I used to work at a wine shop: don’t try the same thing twice. If you come across a wine you like, store it in your memory, or write notes so you’d remember it. But next time, try something similar but different. If you’re in a wine shop and not at a festival, find the wine you know you like, and try the one next to it, since they’re arranged on the shelf based on similar style.”

5. Be adventurous
“Another thing to do would be to try something you’ve never heard of. The whole point of festivals is to make experimentation affordable and accessible. At most you’d be losing the cost of one glass of wine, but you might make a discovery. What I would like to get out of every tasting event is to discover something new, something I had no idea existed. Somebody gave me this pour of rosé, a blend of cabernet sauvignon – a red grape – and Riesling – a white grape variety; I don’t think anyone’s ever done that before, and it’s delicious! This would never happen in France, but in Australia, you can pretty do anything with wine as long as you don’t lie about it.”

6. Drink rosé and pinot noir
“There are some amazing rosés on this list. Australians are starting to drink rosé, lots of rosé. There are also some sparkling wines from Tasmania worth trying. Some of the wines you see here are a lot posher than the ones you’d expect to find at a similar festival in Australia, like a lot of the higher end pinot noirs that are on offer here. So it’s a great opportunity to try them.”

7. Avoid food that are too spicy, hot or cold, unless you drink water in between
“There’s really no need to avoid certain types of food, but the standard thing to say would be to avoid anything that’s too spicy or too hot, which is going to numb your palate. If you’re doing one mouthful of food and one mouthful of wine, I’d avoid chilli. I also find shiitake mushrooms to have a very persistent flavour that really dominates. And ice cream, because of that same numbing effect. But if you’re drinking water in between, don’t worry about it.”


Max Allen’s Pick of Top 10 Australian Wines at Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival

  1. Jansz Tasmania “Premium Rosé” Tasmania Chardonnay NV
  2. Pewsey Vale Vineyards Eden Valley Riesling 2017
  3. Mount Pleasant “Cellar Aged Elizabeth” Hunter Valley Semillon 2009
  4. Yeringberg Yarra Valley Viognier 2015
  5. Chalk Hill McLaren Vale Vermentino 2014
  6. Turkey Flat Vineyards Barossa Valley Grenache rosé 2017
  7. Hither & Yon McLaren Vale Nero d’Avola 2017
  8. Moorooduc Estate “The Moorooduc” Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2015
  9. Giant Steps “Applejack Vineyard” Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2016
  10. Wynns Coonawarra Estates “Black Label” Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014


The Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival 2017 is taking place at Central Harbourfront from tomorrow until October 28. Check out their official website for more info. Tickets and wine passes are available at the door and online.

When: October 26, 7.30pm to 11.30pm; October 27 & 28, 12nn to 11.30pm; October 29, 12nn to 10pm
Where: Central Harbourfront Event Space

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