As the Thai hospitality industry enters the second year of the  Wine List of the Year competition, a review of the first year traces some interesting outcomes.

Famed as one of the most penalising countries of Asia in its beverage taxation, it was time to raise the quality bar at restaurants and resorts.

Despite it’s high beverage price positioning and busy tourist sector, the great wines of the world are occasionally found on Thai wine cards.

Wine List of the Year Founder Jon Hyams says “entry is designed to reward excellence in the field of wine list compilation and to further encourage the development of wine culture in Thailand.”

Hyams continues, “The 2012 winning wine list, The Sarojin, Khao Lak epitomized the future of wine list design and the way sommeliers communicate with and invite the consumer to learn, enjoy and pay more attention to the consumption of premium wines.

THE SAROJIN took three awards – Best Resort List, Best List Phuket Region and Best National List.

When asked what effect the three awards had on his business, Dawid Koegelenberg, General Manager and writer of The Sarojin’s wine list, says; “winning the competition catapulted us into a different stratosphere, and we captured that with our public relations, particularly our travel agents world wide. The Sarojin Facebook page was immediately viewed by over six thousand people.”

“Guests are leaving favourable comments about our wine tasting experiences, and more recently we have groups specifically booking holidays because of it, a real surprise,” he concludes.

Sarojin went outside the square of the older-fashioned wine book listing; made their card simple, entertaining and short for all guests to comprehend.

“Sommelier’s seasonal selection”, “mouthwatering crispy whites” and “purple stained reds” were some of the descriptive terms are used  to invite guests to drink by style rather than by region. This allowed wines from all the world to be represented, and not just repeat the familiar “Old World” regionals.

Director of Food and Beverage at Four Seasons Chiang Mai Jasjit Assi says “the awards helped us to understand we were doing something right. There is a direction based on our clients to continue to offer value for money and wines that a global Four Seasons traveller appreciates. We do not have a huge local business.”

“Our strategies are changing for Chinese tastes – cabernet, chardonnay. I realised that to increase quality by the glass had to offer something more interesting that just Bordeaux classed growths (though still needed) or Italian greats; there needed to be more options on grape varietals,” says the Chiang Mai Regional winner.

The 2013 Wine List of the Year Awards will be announced on 11 September.

Peter Scudamore-Smith is an Australian-based Master of Wine www.uncorkedandcultivated.com.au , and chair of Wine List of the Year Thailand 2012, 2013.