18 Oct 2019
Drinks on Hong Kong
Hong Kong will soon be the toast of the beverage world when the city hosts the HKTDC Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre which runs from 7 to 9 November.
In addition to the traditional wine-producing mainstays such as France and Australia, the fair will broaden Hong Kong’s role as a wine hub by highlighting producers from Central and Eastern European countries with a long tradition as vintners such as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Ukraine.
Entering its 12th edition, the Wine & Spirits Fair has become the most important event of its kind in Asia. This year, more than 1,000 exhibitors from over 20 countries and regions will showcase their quality wine and spirits; a Ukrainian exhibitor will debut at the fair.
The fair will include 60 events; the last day (Saturday, 9 November) will be open to public visitors with tickets, offering an exceptional opportunity for Hong Kong’s wine lovers to enrich their knowledge and sample a broad selection of wines from around the world.
Speaking at a press conference introducing the event, Benjamin Chau, Deputy Executive Director of the HKTDC (main picture, fourth from left), said: “Following the decision by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to eliminate all duty-related customs and administrative controls on wine in 2008, Hong Kong’s wine industry underwent a rapid boom. The total value of wine imports surged from HK$1.6 billion in 2007 to HK$12 billion in 2018, an increase of more than 700%. The satisfactory growth in local demand signals a positive outlook for the local wine industry. Today, Hong Kong has evolved into the region’s principal wine trading and distribution hub, and the city continues to be a gateway for wines to enter the mainland market.”
Numerous advantages the city enjoys underline this hub role. In addition to wine trading and distribution, other wine-related businesses including auctions, retailing, warehousing, catering and transportation are well established in Hong Kong. Since 2009, Hong Kong has also become one of the world’s largest wine auction centres. Auction sales reached US$133 million in 2018 – the second highest in the world.
According to Statista, wine demand in the markets of Asia and Mainland China continues to grow. The market research agency forecasts that between 2019 and 2023, wine sales in Asia will grow at 4% a year. A Euromonitor International report, meanwhile, showed Hong Kong consumers are seeking new tastes and high-quality alcoholic beverages.
Craft Beer pavilion launches
The fair will feature some 20 international group pavilions from wine-producing regions, trade organisations and government bodies looking to promote their quality products. This year, Japan’s Tottori Prefecture will host its debut pavilion at the fair, while the pavilions from the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) will all expand in scale. Additionally, a Craft Beer Pavilion will be launched as part of the broader Beer Zone, with an assortment of quality craft beers, including several from Hong Kong breweries, on display.
Specialty zones aside, exhibitors from around the world will present an array of remarkable products at the 2019 Wine & Spirits Fair, including:
• The Ludwig Andre Late Harvest, from the Czech Republic, which was served at state banquets when Czech President Miloš Zeman visited the mainland for the first time in 2014 and when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Czech Republic in 2016. The André grapes are indigenous to the Czech Republic and are produced only in small quantities;
• Sav Sparkling wine from Sweden, which is made with nutritious Nordic birch sap collected every spring when the snow begins to melt. The sap is then fermented using traditional methods and the process takes a full year to complete;
• A champagne gift box, jointly created by Champagne Comtes de Dampierre from France and Bentley Motors from the United Kingdom to celebrate the carmaker’s centenary;
• Laimao Chinese liquor produced by Kweichow Moutai from the mainland, which was launched in 1941 as a predecessor of Moutai, the national wine of China. The Laimao is a fine example of spirits that have a rich “fermented fragrance”.
In addition to liquor and beverages, the Wine & Spirits Fair also features the Whisky and Spirits zone, the Beer zone, the World of Olive Oil zone and various other zones that promote the industry’s all-round development, including Wine Education, Wine Accessories, Equipment and Services and Wine Investment. Food-pairing products, meanwhile, will be showcased in the Friends of Wine zone.
Acclaimed Asia Wine Academy returns
Following its resounding success last year, the HKTDC is once again co-organising the Asia Wine Academy with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Hotel and Tourism Management. This year, the Academy will feature Lu Yang, the world’s first Chinese Master Sommelier, and Jeannie Cho Lee, Master of Wine, who will host a session entitled “Looking into Variations of Cabernet”. The speakers will take a deep dive into cabernets and similar grape varieties from around the world. Participants will taste and assess wines from different regions and receive a certificate upon completing the course.
Other events include a dozen wine-tasting sessions. On the first day of the Wine Industry Conference, Master of Wine Debra Meiburg (main picture, fifth from left) will host a session entitled “Game Changer: Marketing Wine in Millennial Bottles”, during which renowned wine critics and industry representatives will examine ways to promote wines to the younger generation.
One of the wine industry’s signature events, the 11th Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition Award Presentation Ceremony will be held during the Cocktail Reception on the first night. More than 60 awards will be given out, and the winning wines will be displayed at the Wine Gallery during the fair. After the cocktail reception, a Gala Wine Dinner with the theme “Modern Vault”, will be staged. Guests will enjoy a menu curated by Chef Jacques Kagi, who has worked at several renowned hotels and featured as a judge on local TV cooking competition shows.
Public day opens the fair to public visitors with tickets
The last day of the Wine & Spirits Fair (9 November) will be the Public Day, open to members of the public aged 18 or above. Regular tickets will be priced at HK$200*.
A series of seminars, wine tastings, masterclasses, whisky tastings and cocktail demonstrations will be held on the Public Day, all of which will allow visitors to expand their knowledge and understanding of wines and spirits. Events open to the public will include a seminar run by Ms Meiburg titled “Indie Fest: The World's Hottest Indigenous & Alternative Varieties”, a wine tasting class co-organised by the Asia Wine Service and Education Centre (AWSEC) and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), and a Japanese sake film screening and tasting event.
The HKTDC will also once again launch the Hong Kong Wine Journey citywide promotion. The campaign will gather more than 90 partners to host a range of wine-related activities, such as wine-tasting and wine-pairing classes, to share the joy of wine with the public. Visitors to the Wine & Spirits Fair can enjoy free corkage at selected restaurants during the promotion. For details, please refer to the Hong Kong Wine Journey map or the event website.
*Ticket details: from now until Friday (8 November), members of the public can purchase Public Day tickets at a special price of HK$99 through AlipayHK APP, HKTVmall, HoKoBuy, Ticketflap, Price.com, Timable and Yahoo Deals. Ticket buyers will receive a Lucaris crystal wine glass on a first-come, first-served basis while stocks last. Additionally, members of the public can enrol in the Asia Wine Academy at a special price of HK$690 (original price HK$880) through the Wine & Spirits Fair website or through HKTVmall, HoKoBuy, Timable or Ticketflap on or before 20 October. The package includes a complimentary Wine & Spirits Fair ticket and a Lucaris crystal wine glass – valued at a total of HK$1,300 and redeemable only on 9 November 2019 on a first-come, first-served basis while stocks last.