Buying wine in Singapore (pt 3)

In this part 3 of the “buying wine in Singapore” series, let’s look at how you can be more successful at buying wines by knowing what you like and knowing who you buy from.
With our aim to be #TrueLocal, we will bring in specifics that apply to the scene in Singapore.
We have looked at how one can learn more about a wine that is being offered for sale. But, learning about the wine from research is just gathering facts and 3rd-party opinions about the wine. What one treasures may be what another loathes. The next step is to know yourself (rather, your tastes), and to know your supplier.

Tasting wines to know what you like

One direct and easy way, and no doubt the best, to find out more of the wine being offered is to taste the wine!
Wine labels give scientific information (facts), wine reviews give second-hand tasting opinions. But tasting the wine for oneself, gives a definite “yea” or “nay” to whether the wine is palatable enough to throw some hard-earned cash at.
Tasting wines is about educating your own palate, teasing your own senses, and contribute to the overall picture of what you really enjoy about wines, and which types of wines (be it grape varieties or regions of production or “style”) satisfy you more. Take note of which wines you like, and which you don’t. Ask yourself why.
I have a motto: wines should never be enjoyed alone!

Wines tasted in a session with friends
Wines tasted in a session with friends

Find a group of like-minded friends to taste wines together. In a group of 5-6, or even 10, one can taste far more wines than just by oneself. During the tasting, listen to what others say about the wines. You may catch words that precisely describe what you detected in your tasting, but unable to pinpoint. An hour spent proactively tasting wines trumps a day scouring the internet for information.

Tastings conducted by importers/retailers

In Singapore, where wines are not cheap enough to simply buy to try, one has to look for different opportunities to taste wines. This is where tastings conducted by importers and/or retailers come in. More and more, one can find tasting sessions offered up for consumers to try the products. And often, there are accompanying discounts for the wines on show.

Waiting for a wine tasting session to start (Artisan Wine Singapore)
Waiting for the wine tasting session to start… (Artisan Wine Singapore)

Attending an importer/retailer-conducted tasting session gives you the opportunity to know those who sell you wines. At such tasting sessions, take time to chat with the host(s) or the retail shop assistants. Ask the importer why he/she is importing wines from the particular producers or regions. Find out if the shop assistant has a good knowledge of wine, so that next time he/she can provide you with good direction when making a purchase.
Know your suppliers, see them as partners in your wine journey. If possible, make friends. After all, wine enjoyment has a special way of bonding otherwise strangers together. That is what I do.
Some regular (free) tastings offered in Singapore:

  • 1855 The Bottle Shop – conducts fortnightly tastings (Friday evening & Saturday afternoon), join their mailing list for updates and alerts of tasting sessions
  • My Wine Shop – conducts monthly tastings, join their mailing list for updates and alerts of tasting sessions
  • Wine Connection – conducts regular in-store tastings (I am unsure of frequency or where specific information are given), drop by any branch on Fridays or Saturdays, and you may be pleasantly surprised to be met with a tasting bench

There is another type of tasting that is very popular in Singapore, and you may already have been to a few – wine dinners. These are typically intimate coursed dinners where wines are presented (perhaps by a representative from the producer) and matched carefully with food, to provide a more holistic experience for the consumer. These events can be quite costly, but do offer valuable insight into the producers and their ethos.
Retail chains like 1855 The Bottle Shop and The Straits Wine Company would organise quite a few wine dinners each year. Importers, such as Artisan Wine SingaporeMonopole and Wine Exchange Asia, also do wine dinners to engage with customers. Also, look out for major food and wine events, where special wine dinners or masterclasses are organised, although these events are typically very expensive.
Yours truly would also organise informal, themed wine dinners infrequently. Keep an eye out on this blog, on our FaceBook page, or via Twitter, as I think we will be doing one around the middle of this year! 😉

– – – – – – – – –

As one explore deeper into the wonderful world of wines, one begins to know more and more about what wines are personally enjoyable, and what wines not. Along the journey, make friends (whether in the trade or out), and these will aid in making the wine purchase a successful one.

know the wine +
know what wines you like +
know those who sell wines to you
= more success in buying wines


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