Is fine wine for all?

When I first started in wine drinking, some friends jokingly called me Atas (read: ah-tas). A Malay word referring to one being upper class, but usually used in a negative or sarcastic context. The reasons often revolved around wine being an upper society beverage and more expensive than beer. Ironically they are (usually) the same people who splurged more than $200 on a bottle of rubbish liquor in overpriced venues. A decent wine can be less than $100.

While having said that, many wine drinkers are curious to check out high value fine wines of Gallic origin. Valued at four digits a bottle, this will easily burn a hole in the pocket. Buy one to be a proud owner as though you won the Grand Prix, at the same instance the budget is reduced to nichts.

Around two months ago, a reputable wine connoisseur wrote about the hype on Bordeaux wines on a Chinese mainstream newspaper. He gave perspective on the en premieur (French wine futures) market detailing the supply and demand which was pretty informative. On the closure, he put up a list of wines that he recommended for consumers who are interested in high end wines. The one that caught my eyes, Chateau d’Yquem.

With all due respect to the reputable news agency, which has been in circulation for three decades and close to 176,000 copies daily. Most of these readers are not likely to have the spending power (much less the earning power) to afford such an affluent, and astronomically priced wine. The same can be argued about high end motor cars reviews printed on weekend English papers, then again the prices of cars in Singapore are sky high to begin with. So the argument doesn’t stand when a Cherry QQ in Singapore can acquire a Porsche in other parts of the world.

On one occasion, I was privileged to enjoy a glass of Chateau Lafite 2000, a generosity from a sommelier friend. Honestly I wouldn’t fork out that kind of money for a bottle of wine. One, I may not drink with the right people. Two, I need to find the right occasion. Three, I am very likely to open the bottle at a wrong moment and spend my remaining lifetime lamenting.

So why risk burning the cash?

I believe in pitching the right note to the right audience. If a friend is asking wine recommendation for dinner, I will definitely advise going for something that matches the budget of the dinner. Gastronomy is about enjoying the best without having to rob a bank. If someone has to get hurt for another to be happy, that’s not right.

Cotes du Rhone by Domaine Andre Brunel is an alluring bottle and cost even lesser than a buffet brunch in Singapore. Priced between $30 and $40, it is extremely good value for everyday drinking. Simple wine with open aroma of prunes, spices and little hints of floral. Tannins and acid are there but not daunting. Clean, fresh and balance, go get it.

Available at ewineasia.com.

the author

One fine day, Wai Xin woke up and decided to throw Java coding out of window in exchange for a career in wine. Believing strongly that wine is for enjoyment and not a trading commodity, he encourages sensible, affordable drinking and the exploration of individual preferences.