The inaugural Wine List of the Year Thailand was judged last Friday in downtown Bangkok’s Ramada Encore.
The competition across five main categories attracted just under 50 entries in what founder, Jon Hyams described as “really fair support as a first try in underpinning the growing Thai restaurant scene”.
Three judges; this writer from Australia, respected sommelier and long time educator Pairarch Intaput and writer of the hugely popular Singapore based wine and food site of Curtis Marsh of The Wandering Palate fame.
I could see immediately that staging this contest will grow the standards of listed wine menus as I had witnessed precisely the same process at work in Australia over decades.
Australian restaurant wine lists are found to be some of the best in the world, even the eclectic ones.
More importantly it is the support investments-wine preservation, refrigerated cabinets, wall displays, i-Pads, sommelier skilling and diners’ drinking experience that takes a restaurant to the top of the field in the pleasurable offering stakes.
Clearly all property owners aspire to see this occur.
The judging panel’s deliberation found lists at all stages of development in this exciting wine scene, and there are many opportunities for further expansion of food and wine service activities.
One was where a wine list took a closer focus on wine pairing with specific dishes and a cuisine style, particularly where flights of wines are offered.
Try 1986, 1996 and 2006 Penfolds Grange by a 75 ml serve; or three Barolos from a great aging year like 2004; three single sites in Novello, Serralunga and La Morra respectively, washing down a pasta dressed with ragu.
The list classifications were international properties, resorts, restaurants, small lists (under 50 wines), wine bars and regional recognition.
Many lists numbered around 100-150 wines, with spurts up to 350, 600 and 700. Large lists of course become unmanageable, running more into the category of “wine cellar-collection-investment” and not restaurant grounds.
This year there will be prizes for lists of restaurants located in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Koh Samui and Phuket.
Many of the great wines of the world were found on restaurant lists-Collectable Champagne, First Growth Bordeaux, Domaine Burgundy, Hermitage, Brunello, Barolo, Bolgheri stars, Etna Rosso, top Amarone, Central Otago pinot noir, Napa cabernet, Barossa shiraz, Austrian gruner and Mosel riesling.
Results of the awards are announced at a gala event later next month www.winelistoftheyearThailand.com